George Papadakos, with his son Zan running alongside, crossed the final finish line in his Marathons for Memories Sunday afternoon at 12:54 p.m.
The Tillsonburg triathlete, iron man, and now one of Canada’s most prolific runners – at least in January 2021 – can now take some time off from running. It might be a week, maybe even two, before he starts road training again. And it won’t be a marathon a day.
“Obviously, what better way to end than to have my closest community here with me that have followed me from Day 1 and I can’t think of any better way to finish off January,” said Papadakos, who was greeted at the finish-line ribbon by family and a few close friends.
“January flew by for the most part, and I want to thank all of you and send all my love to each and every one of you that did support what I was doing – and what we were doing. It really became more than just me at the end and I think that’s something that I will remember forever.”
As of Sunday morning, his Marathons for Memories fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of Oxford had reached $36,300.
“So crushed our goal! Not just got to it ($31,000), we crushed our goal. Truly amazing. And I know there are some people who will contribute later today, who told me they were waiting to see how many marathons I would run, and that’s cool.”
In total, Papadakos ran 15 full marathons (42.2 kilometres) in 31 days (633 kilometres) and more than 800 kilometres, which he said was maybe 530 kilometres more than his heaviest monthly training distances.
“I think we’re going to surpass $40,000 which is way above and beyond my $5,000 target that I started with at the beginning, and $13,000 was my second goal, and then $31,000. So getting to $36,000 is pretty amazing.”
On the way, Papadakos had to change his original plan of running 31 marathons in 31 days due to injury (tendonitis related) after his ninth consecutive marathon on Jan. 9. Since then he has ran, walked or biked when able, and members of his family, friends and the community ‘donated’ their own kilometres to his cause, ensuring Papadakos would achieve his marathon-a-day every single day no matter how many kilometres he did individually.
In addition to raising funds, Papadakos had aimed to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s through the Marathons for Memories.
“The awareness, I think, will trickle in through the winter. And I think it’s going to be huge once it gets through their media sources and their social, what we’ve accomplished here. I just don’t think I had envisioned it at that grand of a scale – I just wanted to get as much awareness and money as possible, and I think we’ve achieved that.”
Papadakos noted the Alzheimer Society of Oxford’s Walk for Alzheimer’s, which coincides with the national walk, will be in May 2021.
Looking to next year, Papadakos said they are considering avenues to replicate Marathons for Memories on a bigger scale, possibly including groups and teams, and making it a structured annual event.