Papadakos plans to run 31 marathons in January

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In his lifetime, George Papadakos has completed seven marathons.

By the end of January 2021, the 46-year-old Tillsonburg triathlon and running coach will shatter that mark.

Papadakos plans to run 31 marathons in 31 days in January while raising funds and awareness for the Alzheimer Society.

An experienced runner, Papadakos had to cancel one ironman and two half-ironman competitions in 2020, deferring them to 2021.

“Going into 2021 – there’s a lot of uncertainty in terms of my race schedule and what kind of race environment there will be this year.”

Inspired in part by Dean Karnazes, who ran 50 marathons in 50 American states in 50 days, Papadakos came up with an idea to combine his race talents and his love for the Alzheimer Society to raise money for the local Oxford branch.

“They are in a very sticky situation… where they might have to amalgamate to keep it alive in this area,” said Papadakos. “They might have to amalgamate with London, or a couple different Societies, so they can keep afloat and give the support they need to in this community.”

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The two annual Walk for Memories in Oxford County (Tillsonburg and Woodstock), normally held in January, are among the highest per capita Alzheimer Society fundraisers in the country, said Shelley Green, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, last year in Woodstock.

“The Walk for Memories is not going to happen in January – they have tentatively pushed it into May,” Papadakos noted. “And they have already announced that it’s going to be a virtual walk.”

Papadakos said an online pledge form for his marathon fundraiser will be available through the Alzheimer Society website. You can reach out to Papadakos (email) triathlongeorge@hotmail.com for more information on how or where to donate, George Papadakos for Facebook, and @triathlongeorge for Instagram.

Papadakos, who hosted several charity duathlons (running and cycling) over the years to support the Alzheimer Society, said he wanted to do something a little more ‘high profile.’

“As funny as it seems, I thought about doing a marathon a day for the month of January, and then I was like, ‘no, no, no…’ Two weeks later it was all I could think about. Is it feasible? Is it crazy?

“At the end of the day, I know I can do it, and I think if we can create an awareness that the Alzheimer Society is a huge deal, get a little fanfare with what I’m doing and get some people behind it, get some sponsors, and get some people who want to donate to my cause… we can see where we can go with it. It may not turn out to be as big as I think it’s going to be, but I think it’s going to be a pretty special endeavour. I’ve got some pretty great people behind me and my family is always behind me – and they already know I’m crazy.”

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Papadakos plans to run an outdoor marathon a day (26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometres) for as long as he can in January, adjusting accordingly to the weather.

“I do have a treadmill and I could run virtually one day if I needed to, but I don’t plan on doing that.”

His goal to run 31 marathons in 31 days comes with a small asterisk. He currently plans to run the first marathon on Dec. 31, then spend Jan. 1 with family. Then begin in earnest on Jan. 2 with 30 marathons in 30 consecutive days.

Papadakos would need to circle the town about four times to complete a marathon. But there will also be days when family members drive him out of town so he can run with the wind at his back.

“There may be days where I need to do loops around town, in terms of my fueling. There may be days when I have to slow things down. There’s a lot of unknowns. I think that’s the biggest thing that scares me – and excites me at the same time. Right now my whole mindset is to take it one day at a time, one marathon at a time.”

Papadakos reached out to a local chiropractor, Dr. Mark Dickson, who will give him adjustments every week to make sure he is in top form.

“I also have (RMT) massage therapist Courtney Bari from Tillsonburg Massage Therapy Centre, she’s going to give me a massage every week as well. So those two are going to be huge parts of my recovery.

“I think that will be a big part of it. I think I can manage a marathon a day, it’s just going to be how do I recover, and will I be recovering well enough to sustain that slow, aerobic endurance pace that I’m envisioning in my mind.”

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The plan is to run about four-and-a-half hours a day.

“Right now my coach has me running pretty much twice a day, one morning, one afternoon, along with strength sessions. We have time to build into that January effort.

“I’ve been enjoying it and it’s been exciting. I think the more I get my mind wrapped around what I have to do, and what I am doing and why I’m doing it, the more and more excited I am.

“The Alzheimer Society, it’s just something we’ve always rallied around. It’s got a special place in our hearts and I just feel that being in this (pandemic) environment that we’re in right now, they are definitely in need of funds, for sure.”

cabbott@postmedia.com