Tillsonburg runner is taking his 31 consecutive marathons one day at a time

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Three days into his 31 in 31, Tillsonburg’s George Papadakos had completed his third consecutive marathon Sunday as he raises funds for the Alzheimer Society of Oxford.

Papadakos began his marathon fundraiser on Jan. 1 at 7:16 a.m., running 42.2 kilometres on streets and trails in Tillsonburg.

“The first day went totally amazing, it went pretty much the way I thought it would, just kind of nice and easy,” said Papadakos.

He added that he running a slower-than-usual pace to make sure he has energy to run 31 marathons, between four hours and 14 minutes to four hours and 26 minutes each, in the month of January.

“Because it was the first day, I really wanted to nail nutrition and I didn’t have my hydration vest on… that carries two water jugs on the front and I’ve got enough pockets (for food). So I was doing 2.5 kilometres out-and-backs (mostly in the Trottier subdivision area).

“Now that I’ve done three, I know I can run a very conservative marathon and be able to leave ‘gas in the tank’ for the next day. I’m finding roughly around the six-minute mark is pretty good.”

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Sunday, however, was not an ideal day with icy, snow-covered roads.

“I really didn’t think we were going to get as much snow, but I was feeling good, got out early,” said Papadakos. “Saturday, I was feeling a little achey – my foot was a little sore so I wanted to give it as much recovery as I could. Once I got the shoes on I was fine, the aches and pains kind of went away and I got into the rhythm pretty quickly. Felt super solid and had lots of support out on the road. I added some rest breaks so I could eat while I wasn’t running. It worked out really well.”

Two of his marathons were in town, but Saturday’s marathon involved running an ‘out-and-back’ loop to Springfield.

Papadakos is aiming to raise $31,000 for the Alzheimer Society of Oxford (https://alzheimer.ca/oxford/en/home) by the end of the month. As of Monday, he had raised $11,215 – 36 per cent of his month-long goal.

He also has seven to eight donors who will be donating per marathon. Those will be coming in at the end of the month or early February.

“More inspiration and motivation for me to show up every day and do my best and get the distance done.”

Donations have ranged from $20 to $3,100 and Papadakos is thankful for every single one of them.

The support from the community has been fantastic so far, he said.

“I love this community. Every day has been great. It’s amazing how many people honk, and stop, and wave out their windows. They’re cheering as I go by on the sidewalk. Or sending a text message, ‘Keep it up, you’re doing a great job, you’re inspiring people.’”

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Inspiring people is a special feeling, he said.

“I hadn’t even thought of that… the whole community has kind of lifted me up on their shoulders. It’s been amazing.”

Papadakos’ family has joined some parts of his runs, and will continue to run some stretches with him.

“In terms of support, I’ve got it all. I’ve just got to stay on top of everything – my nutrition, my recovery – and just show up every day,” he said. “I don’t see how I could fail, it’s just been so positive and the experience has been amazing.

“I think it’s been going great. My coach and I, we really anticipated going out slow. We had a plan and our game plan was to run every marathon over four hours. And even if it’s five, it’s five. Don’t burn matches you don’t have. If you ‘re plan is to run 31 marathons in 31 days, you’re not going to run four fast ones and then walk 27 more, right? You want to be able to run because that’s a big part of getting to the next day, being able to recover. You’ve got to keep a little something for the next day, otherwise… you’re going to be walking. And who wants to walk 42 kilometres? I don’t want to do that.”

The day may come, however, when Papadakos needs a ‘recovery marathon.’ A part-run, part-walk hybrid that would help him get back on track recovery-wise.

“Today (Sunday) I got on the road before 8 a.m., 12:30 done, and I’ve had my feet up ever since. I’ve had five or six meals, lots of water, I’ve been using a massage wand. So I’m doing all the things and listening to my body, tending to the spots that are tender and tight, and so far it’s working. It’s working very, very good.

“That’s the thing, just taking it a day at a time. I know I want to do 31 marathons, but I also know it’s one day at a time right now, I’m not getting too far ahead of myself.”

cabbott@postmedia.com