The Back Of The Pack

A Great National Running Organization

By Gary Pulver

I have run 15 races throughout the country with Mainly Marathons, an organization that was started to assist runners in meeting either state goals (running races in all 50 states) or numbers goals (running a certain number of races, i.e 100 or 200, etc.)  I found the organization while searching for races in states I planned to visit two years ago and thought I would give them a try.  At the time they organized races in around 40 states so I thought they might be ideal for finding races on days other than weekends.  They really do cater to all kinds of runners - fast, slow and in between.  They currently have 14 “series” of races with as many as nine races in a series.  For example, the Center of the Nation Series has races in six states on consecutive days in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado.  

At Mainly Marathons, a runner can choose to do a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon, a full marathon or an ultra marathon (31K).  A runner can also choose to do two races in the same day, for example, a marathon and a 5K.  One of the most attractive features of their races is that they advertise “no time limit” for all of them.  I just finished running three races with them in their Northwest Series.  In my quest to run a race in all 50 states, I needed all three states in the series and finished a 5K in Pendleton, Oregon, Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston, Washington.  The organization ran two races on consecutive days in each location and many runners did indeed run all six days.  I was content to complete my three races but was amazed watching several runners complete an ultra marathon each of the six days.  

Gary's Medals

Gary's Medals

Mainly Marathons began as an organization in 2012 with one series being held in one state, New Mexico.  It expanded to three in 2013 and added more each year until it reached the current number of 14.  As of 2018, all 50 states will be represented in one or more of the series.  The organization was recently purchased by two brothers from Minnesota who I can attest have definitely carried on the fine traditions that were begun by the founder.  Clint did an incredible job starting the organization and running the races.  George is a holdover from the “Clint” years and has certainly helped in the transition. The new owners, Jesse and Dan, have kept all of the great things and added some great things of their own to Mainly Marathons. They have added a wonderful monthly newsletter but to me the best change they have made is the state medals that are awarded to every finisher of every race.  I will add a photo of the three medals I earned in the Northwest Series.  You get one big medal for each series, a medal for each race in the shape of the state for each race you complete, and another medal if you are able to complete a race in every race of a series. There are other awards given out, such as a medal for completing your first marathon or a medal for finishing last in a race.  

I can attest to the fact that they do adhere to the no time limit for all races except the ultra marathon. A check of times reveals that they had a runner complete a marathon in over 14 hours during the Northwest Series. The support is incredible.  All of the races are of the out and back variety where it might be 12 or 14 laps for a marathon and 6 or 7 laps for a half marathon.  The races can become quite a social time as I noticed many groups of two, three or four runners staying together and chatting the entire time.  You end up crossing paths with other runners many times during a race.  Many of them say a word of encouragement every time they see you.  Besides all of the running support, there is incredible food and drink support.  Tables are set up with food and drink fit for a king.  You pass the tables each lap.  There is such hot food as french toast, paninis, hot dogs, and tater tot scramble to energize the runners.  It was super hot for all of my three races, each day it was over 100 degrees in the afternoon (but it was in the 60’s when I started my races at 6:00).  To help the runners with the heat, they offered early starts of both 4:00 and 5:00 for all of the races.  A four hour half marathoner would not have had to experience any of the heat if they started at 4:00.

Mainly Marathons has a website (mainlymarathons.dreamhosters.com) and many Facebook pages.  There is one for Mainly Marathons and one for each of the series that they hold.  I have joined each Facebook page so that I can keep up with people that I have met and get up to date information on all of the races.  I will be doing two races in the Southwest series in November, Arizona and Utah, which will increase my total to 43 of states that I have run a race in.  A new series, the Gulf Coast Series, is being added in 2018.  You can run a race in all five states that border the Gulf of Mexico in February with Texas being scheduled for February 21.  Click on the link and read all about this fine organization and hopefully you will join me at some of their races.  It is just so much fun and I hope to run with them for many years.


Gary Pulver's Bio

Gary Pulver Gary was born in upstate New York in 1947, graduated from State University of New York at Geneseo in 1969, and taught one year of junior high math before joining the Air Force in 1970. Uncle Sam sent him to Texas where he was stationed in San Antonio, Wichita Falls and Abilene. He received his Masters Degree at Abilene Christian University and moved to Arlington in 1974 where he taught junior high math for five years and was a junior high guidance counselor for for 34 years. He likes to joke that he spent 44 years in junior high.

Gary played baseball throughout his school years and was a good bowler through high school and college. He was on the Geneseo bowling team and once was part of a state championship team. Athletic endeavors were limited to softball once he moved to Arlington. He became a runner at the ripe old age of 63. He was nearing retirement when his wife said "Now you're not going to just sit around and play on the computer when you retire are you!!!" His reply was "How about I become a marathon runner!!" The stories of his running exploits will be described in his column but from a very humble beginning as a runner, he has trained with the likes of Bill Richardson and Joe Boyle and is currently a member of The Running Bear Running Club in Granbury where he and his wife, Karen, have retired. Early in his running career he made himself the goal of running a race in all 50 states. He has currently done so in 20 states and 3 countries and has races in 14 more states on his calendar to be completed by the end of September, 2015.

Gary's columns will focus on two aspects of running, the older runner and the slower runner, for he happily admits to being both of these.