2018 Tokyo Marathon

Running Full Circle – Sixth and Final World Major Marathon

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Tokyo, here we come!

In the marathon world, there are six majors: Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York City and Tokyo. Until recently, I ran five of these six races. Tokyo has been on my radar for the last five years and finishing this race will check off a major (pun intended) bucket list item on my journey to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s.

The Tokyo Marathon course symbolizes the past, present, and future of Tokyo. This year, over 35,000 runners from Japan and around the world wound their way from Tokyo’s famous Metropolitan Government complex in Shinjuku on the city’s western side, to Tokyo Station on the east, running past scores of cheering fans and several of the city’s beloved landmarks.

Luckily, I was joined by my girlfriend, Carrie, (more on this later), who was nothing short of inspirational throughout the race and beyond (more on that later).

10 Takeaways from the 2018 Tokyo Marathon

1. Registration – Simple supply versus demand mathematics. The Abbott World Marathon Majors demand continues to skyrocket year after year, while the supply remains fairly fixed. Ask any runner what their odds of winning an online lottery entry spot for a major and you will likely hear 7-10%.* For example, over 300,000 runners went online to log-in for the Tokyo marathon…and then prayed for months eagerly waiting a confirmation email or a likely “unfortunately, you did not receive a lottery entry, but we look forward to your application next year.” Why? The Tokyo marathon lottery provides a total of 30,000 spots.  To avoid such chaos and stress, I registered through the “Run with Heart” charity option which opens on July 2 and runs through July 31. Run with Heart accepts 5,000 runners on a first come, first serve basis. In order to obtain a charity runner status, a runner must make a $1,000 contribution to one of twenty-two different charities offered by the race organizer.

*Boston marathoners must qualify for this race or raise $5,000 through one of their partner charities for a spot. 

2. Security is tight – Carrie and I stayed at an Airbnb approximately a 10-minute walk from the start line. On race day, everything was blocked off and we ended scrambling around for over 30 minutes to find an entrance (at an underground train station). At this point in time, we had to separate due to the tight security. Carrie was somehow able to find me before I crossed the start line. Moral of the story: leave yourself, as a runner and a spectator, plenty of time in the morning (easily  30-45 minutes longer than any other race).

3. Average temperature – this year was unusually cold with temperature’s starting in the low 30s! Normally, the temperatures average in the mid to high 40s. This was literally the first time in my life that I wore gloves and a fleece for the first two to three miles of a race (with the exception of Antarctica).

4. The race atmosphere is incredible! – Spectators line the streets for the entire race (similar to the Boston Marathon), and although they were predominantly cheering in Japanese, you can still absorb the amazing vibes even if you don’t speak the local language. I smiled all the way around and soaked up the spirit of the Tokyo Marathon.

One of many stops along the race where spectators showcased their love of Japanese culture. (Photo taken at the Asuka Temple Cannon)

5. KM not miles – there are no mile markers, only kilometer markers that go from 1 km to 42 km.

6. Aid stations every 5 kilometers – once in the corrals, the race is exceptionally well organized with  aid stations every 5 km which provide water, bananas, and even tomatoes!

7. No one drops any litter – it is amazing how many volunteers line the course with trash bags to collect everything from gel wrappers to cups and bottles. Don’t even think about throwing your empty gel or starbursts on the ground. I was too scared to drop even the top bit, so I ended up with a rather sticky pocket! I think this is a great idea; having seen the debris and aftermath of other races, this is something that should be implemented more often.

8. Navigating as a spectator – as a directionally challenged individual, navigating Tokyo on a normal day can give even the most directionally savvy person an anxiety attack. The train system is…the worst! Nothing goes where the map says it will go and people working at the underground stations aren’t that helpful or friendly. With this in mind, on race day, ask questions and follow the crowd. How Carrie was able to find me three times along the way was absolutely mind-blowing! I would have literally been crying away in some corner because you feel like a mouse trapped in a never-ending maze. Kudos to you Carrie Reese!

9. Grab a snapshot of the elites – since the course has a small loop near the halfway point, you might be lucky enough to catch a quick glimpse of the elite runners flying by you at a 5ish per mile pace!

10. Sushi and bling go hand-in-hand! – any bling from a marathon major is worth showing off and keeping safe.

Bottom of my shirt: My favorite supporter —>
Bottom of Carrie’s: <—- My favorite boyfriend

Of course, when you are in the land of sushi, you must celebrate with some freshly cut blue fin tuna!

Photo taken at the Tsujiki Market

SO Now What?

What does one do after running all 6 majors, 7 continents and 12 marathons to date? We decided to make our way west by train to Kyoto, Japan, one of the most beautiful and ancient cities in the entire country. While in Kyoto, we visited the Golden Temple, Bamboo Forest, fed snow monkeys (totally worth the 2 mile hike), ate some of the best sushi and wagyu beef in the world, and most memorably paid a visit to Nara Park. This park, similar in size to Central Park, is known for their bowing deer. Yes, you read that correctly. You bow at them, they bow right back at you.

After walking around the park for over an hour, I decided to pull out my drone in an open space and film some of the deer bowing. I told Carrie to look up at the drone and while she was smiling and dancing away, I said, “I bow to you” (just like we had been doing for the past hour).

Carrie: “I bow to you.”

Me: “Well unlike the deer, I bow to you for life!” And I pulled out an engagement ring.

She screamed. She cried. She screamed some more and in between shouted “Yessssss, yeeeeeesss, yessssssss!!!”

So what now? We will see where the next adventure(s) take us…

And in case you are wondering about the drone footage…yeah, I was a bit nervous and forgot to hit record!

I left the U.S. with a girlfriend and returned with a fiancée!

2017 Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon

The “D” + Passport / Windsor Tunnel = My Hometown Run!

Race #8- 10 for 10 Challenge: 10 Half Marathons in 10 Different States

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The 40th Annual Detroit Free Press International Marathon

Since 1978, runners from all over the world have traveled to Detroit to participate in the this race. This one in particular had special meaning since it was located in my hometown of Detroit. Believe it or not, despite having run on all 7 continents, I have never once raced in my hometown (moved to Charlotte over 15 years ago, but still)! This event embraces people from all walks of life, not just elite runners.  One of a select few races around the world that can truly be called an international race — its course really does take runners across two nations — the route takes runners through the streets of the Motor City and over into Ontario, Canada, for a run along the banks of the Detroit River. Mostly notably, the course even takes runners underground for a mile-long stretch of the race, between the seventh and eighth miles through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel under the river.

On Saturday, I was fortunate to have friends, family and supporters show up to run/walk the 5K. After traveling from state to state for the #10for10Challenge, it was such a treat to have this special group participate and help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s research. On  Sunday, I proudly ran the international half marathon through two different countries, a first for R4P!

Running through the tunnel was by far the highlight of my race experience.

Takeaways from this race:

  • Average Temperature – low is 45ºF and the average high is 63ºF.
  • 4 different race options and time limits:
    • Marathon or Marathon Relay: 6.5 hours
    • International Half-Marathon: 4 hours
    • U.S.-Only Half-Marathon: 3.5 hours
    • 5K: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • International Half Marathon Course Mapview here
  • Do You Really Need a Passport? – If you are an international runner, yes you do!
  • WDIV Coverage – Special thanks to Priya Mann for featuring R4P on TV for this race

    When the local news shows up early to cover your cause and journey!

  • The Race Route – Mostly fast and flat and run on paved surfaces throughout, the race experiences uphill stretches just before runners cross the Ambassador Bridge over into Ontario between miles 2 and 3, and when they emerge from the tunnel around the mile 8 marker. After crossing the bridge, and giving up the elevation they’ve just gained on the downhill side, runners then head into the campus of Ontario’s University of Windsor. The out-and-back run through campus then gives way to a roughly two-mile-long straightaway run along the banks of the river, along Riverside Drive through the Canadian city of Windsor. Runners then start making the turn that takes them through the tunnel and back into the United States for the remaining few miles of the race. The finish line lies close to the starting line, along West Fort Street next to the DMP building, which is also the home of the Detroit Free Press newspaper. All throughout the course, bands will be playing along the way to provide music and pump up the participants, the field of which will be open to runners, walkers and wheelchair participants.
  • The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel – I have driven back and forth through this tunnel probably 50+ times; BUT having this open for runners ONLY was flat out cool and such a memorable experience to run from one country to the next. Similar to when I ran the Rock ‘N Roll Vegas Half Marathon years ago when they blocked off the strip, this is the only day of the year which customs allows this to happen. A MUST experience for any runner looking for a once-of-a-lifetime race experience in the “D”
  • The Bling – I am a bit biased, but I was a fan!

    Would you run this race to add bling to your collection?

If you have an extra day or two, I highly recommend the following:

  • American v. Lafayette – Since the beginning of time, well, actually 1917, two of the most well-known Coney Island restaurants are the Lafayette Coney Island and the American Coney Island, which are located in adjacent buildings on Lafayette Boulevard in downtown Detroit. Two Greek immigrant brothers got into a business dispute, and in 1917 split their restaurant into the two establishments that exist today. In our family, we only eat at Lafayette because it’s THE BEST; but this is a contentious argument between Detroit locals, and visitors to the city.

    A house forever divided: My gf prefers American and I’m not sure I will ever get over this foodie choice.

  • Belle Isle Island – Situated in the Detroit River, Belle Isle is a relatively small island measuring about 3 miles in length and only a mile wide, there is however plenty to keep visitors to the island entertained. The parkland on the island is stunning, and is a great place for hikers to enjoy a long walk. The island also has facilities for a number of other sports.
  • Henry Ford Museum – Although not entirely focused on Ford himself, this museum focuses on the technological and industrial inventions and achievements of the United States throughout history. Some of the most notable exhibits within the museum are the very first steam locomotive, the car in which John F Kennedy was assassinated and of course the first ever Ford car.

    One of many vintage cars on display.

  • Your Choice of Casinos – If you like to gamble or just want to press your luck, you have plenty of options on both sides of the river. In Detroit, your choices include GreektownMGM Grand or Motor City, while in Windsor, Canada, you can visit the Windsor Caesars.
  • Fox Theatre – Detroit’s crown jewel, the Fox Theatre, has played host to some of the biggest names in show business and holds its ground as one of the top-grossing theaters of its size in the nation.

    This theatre is the largest surviving movie palace of the 1920s and the largest of the original Fox Theatres.

Ultimately, if you choose to run this race, you will see that Detroit is on the rise, why people love Canadians, and have the ability to run past happy-go-lucky customs agents who won’t stop you with your passport.

Still on the fence? Send me a message and I might come back next year and put you up with our family and show you how we roll in the “D!”



2017 Philadelphia Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon

Ever Since Watching Rocky, I’ve Dreamed of Running the “Steps”

Race #7- 10 for 10 Challenge: 10 Half Marathons in 10 Different States

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In the City of Brotherly Love

Famous for its LOVE statue (sadly renovated during my visit), the the 40th annual Rock ‘Roll Series Half Marathon is a road running event which takes place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States on the third Sunday of September. The race welcomes nearly 18,000 runners, walkers, and wheelchair athletes for its out-and-back 13.1-mile course, which starts and finishes near the Eakins Oval, which lies just a stone’s throw from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Takeaways from this race experience:

  • Average Temperature – the average low is 61°F and the average high is 76°F.
  • Time Limit – each runner/walker will have a course time limit of 4 hours to complete the race; that means they’ll need to finish within 4 hours of crossing the starting line according to their personal chip time (not within 4 hours of the starting gun time).
  • Course mapview here
  • CBS Philly Coverage – I was grateful to receive such amazing coverage for this challenge on CBS Philly.

    Special thanks to Anita Oh for interviewing me before the race.

  • Fast, flat and few hills – Participants will experience very few changes in elevation, as the course starts at 35 feet above sea level and rises to its highest point at about 55 feet.
  • The Race Route -racers follow a roughly four-mile loop through Philadelphia’s downtown district that takes them past local landmarks like City Hall, the headquarters of the American Philosophical Society and Philadelphia’s Washington Square, where runners then turn left and head along Arch Street back toward the Oval for the next stretch of the course along the river. Along this path, the race shows off some of the city’s most scenic areas, as runners make their way along the both the southern bank of the Schuykill River, along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, and then along its northern bank after crossing over the river at the Falls Bridge, after which they follow Kelly Drive back southward toward the Museum of Art to the race finish line, just past the Oval.
  • The Rocky Steps and Statue – you can’t make a trip to Philly without seeing the famous steps and statue from Rocky! Fortunately, as racers sprint their way to the finish line, both iconic spots can be seen in the final .1 mile of the course. After you grab your bling, turn left and you can run up the Rocky steps and then wait in about a 15-minute line to have your picture snapped in front of the statue. A must for all finishers!

    Running the “Rocky Steps!” Bucket list item, check.

  • Bling, bling, bling! – the Rock ‘N Roll Series finishing medals never disappoint and always seem to be worth collecting for medal junkies.

    I am a BIG fan of this bling, are you?

Top 5 Things to Experience in Philly Before or After the Race (all of which are free):

  1. The Liberty Bell – You might wait about 15-20 minutes in line to see the bell, but this experience is a must for all visitors.  The bell became famous after an 1847 short story claimed that an aged bellringer rang it on July 4, 1776, upon hearing of the Second Continental Congress’s vote for independence.

    A widespread story claims it cracked while ringing after the death of Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835.

  2. Reading Terminal Market – a foodie’s paradise, and one of America’s largest and oldest public markets, housed since 1893 in a National Historic Landmark building, the Market offers an incredible selection of locally grown & exotic produce, locally sourced meats and poultry, plus the finest seafood, cheeses, baked goods, and confections.
  3. Independence Hall Tour – The guided tour of Independence Hall, led by National Park rangers, begins in the courtroom where lawyers from opposing sides shared tables and law books. George Washington’s “rising sun” chair dominates the Assembly Room which is arranged as it was during the Constitutional Convention. In the adjacent West Wing, the original inkstand used to sign the Declaration of Independence and an original draft of the Constitution are displayed.
  4. Spruce Street Harbor Park -The beloved pop-up park invites visitors to lounge on its signature hammocks, enjoy food on its floating restaurant, cool off with drafts from the beer garden and hang out and play games – bocce, ping pong, shuffleboard and more – along its waterfront boardwalk. Along with a ton of beverage and food options, visitors can enjoy the vibrant, colorful LED lighting that hangs from the treetops to illuminate the park at night and a packed schedule of entertainment set to unfold throughout the season.
  5. Jim’s Steaks – with all due respect to Tony’s Luke’s, Pat’s and Geno’s, a local recommended Jim’s Steak’s where my girlfriend and I waited for about 30 minutes in a line that wrapped around the corner on a Saturday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. While I didn’t get to sample the other places mentioned above, the unbelievable smell of the grill-cooked beef and sizzling onions will assure customers that the steaks are worth waiting for and keep you patient and focused on the eventual reward.

    Make sure you add “Wiz” to your Philly Cheesesteak.

The City of Brotherly Love was way more welcoming than I ever imagined. I always heard how tough and rough the people are in this city, and maybe that is ture, but not from my experiences. As usual, the Rock ‘N Roll Series team and race lived up to the hype and expectations of their brand. They put on a great show and deliver on their race bling.

And I promise during my next visit, I will sample a few other cheesesteak joints (save your emails), hit up a Philly baseball or football game, and hopefully see the original LOVE sign in LOVE Square!

2017 Mad Half Marathon

The Maaaaaaad Hills of Vermont

Race #6- 10 for 10 Challenge: 10 Half Marathons in 10 Different States

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Two Half Marathons, Two States, One Day Apart.
A mere 24 hours ago, I crossed the finish line at the Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon in Portland, Maine and was filming a wrap-up segment. Fast forward to a four hour car ride through the stunning countryside of New Hampshire and into the roving hills of Vermont (nicknamed the Green Mountain  State), I arrived in the small town of Waitsfield. I’ve never run back-to-back half marathons one day apart, let alone in two different states. Apparently, I am late to this running party because at least 30% of the runners I saw the day before in Portland also made the same trek to Vermont. With the costs of travel and race fees these days, more and more people are looking to complete their #50for50Challenge. This lofty challenge is when a person runs 50 full or 50 half marathons (or both in some cases) in 50 states. These folks plan their race calendars around places and races where they can knock off multiple states during a given weekend.

The Mad Half Marathon…the world’s most beautiful marathon
The Seventh Annual Mad Marathon, Mad Half and relays are in the gorgeous Mad River Valley, located in Central Vermont. Runners have the ability to race through this extraordinary rural community on back and dirt roads, with breathtaking views of the Green Mountains, challenging rolling farmlands with tough climbs and descents, quaint villages, historic barns, covered bridges, fields, and of course of course, Vermont’s famous cows!

Takeaways from this race experience:

  • Boston marathon qualifier – this always seems to be one of the first questions for hardcore runner’s and this race course is certified and sanctioned by U.S. Track & Field (VT11012RF).
  • No expo…just a table and a small tent – when you arrive to pick-up your race bib, you walk up to a table, grab your bib and T-shirt. No need for fancy vendors, just a 1-2-3 in & out experience.
  • Race Director Dory Ingalls – is one of the friendliest and most accommodating people and race director’s I have come across in my travels. Email her and she will promptly reply. Ask her for a place to stay or a preferred local restaurant, and she will offer to make an introduction.
  • Start and Finish Line – the race begins and ends on the Mad River Green as runners cross over a barn type structure with a rooster on top pointing ahead.

    Hanging with Dori the day before the race

  • Take it easy or take it tough…they have a race for every runner walkers are welcome, half marathoners, marathoners and relays are available depending on your race cup of tea.
  • Run for Hannah’s House – add meaning to your run by raising funds for Hannah’s House, a community supported nonprofit mental health center with offices in Waitsfield, and Waterbury VT. Team Hannah runners have played a vital role in helping provide mental health services to the community since the first Mad Marathon in 2011.
  • The Heat and the Hills – if you actually take a minute to look at the elevation map, I can promise you it is spot on. The ascents will test your calves and the heat will test your mind. Without a doubt, the views are breathtaking and worth the mileage on your feet, but be prepared to be challenged!
  • Cows, Cows and more Vermont Cows! – there are no shortage of cows happy to pose for selfies.

    Vermont cows grazing on grass in the fields of Waitsfield

  • The Bling – if you don’t think this matters to runners, you are likely kidding yourself.

    Do you think this would look nice on your medal wall?

If you have a little bit of extra time in Vermont, I would recommend:

  • Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour – If you are six feet above ground and you love life, head to the factory! Take their 30-minute guided tour which includes a creative 5-minute video of their history, a step by step overhead view of their manufacturing process, and most importantly, taste-test their current and new products.Tickets are extremely cheap: $4/adult, $3/senior, and free for kids (12 and under).
  • Warren Falls – I loved visiting these falls and spent the better part of a few hours relaxing at them. Take time out of your trip to hit up this little gem…I promise you will not be disappointed.

    The perfect place for an ice bath, beer, or just chilling with your favorite friends

    Whatever you decide, get your behind to Vermont and take in all the state has to offer including their cheese!

    And if you see Dori, tell her Run4Papa said he will spectate next time and watch other runners tackle those hills and heat…

2017 Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon

Racing + Lobsters = One Happy Runner

Race #5 – 10 for 10 Challenge: 10 Half Marathons in 10 Different States

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Is Maine worth the trip? In a word: Yes!
Yes, life is good in Maine. So good, that I am kicking myself for waiting 39 years to make my way to the northernmost state in the New England region of the U.S. With its heady mixture of artistic and outdoor adventures, Portland is stylish and sophisticated, yet remains genuine and unpretentious, a place where grey flannel and plaid flannel coexist companionably. And underlying the latest tech, fashion, and culinary scene is a deep sense of continuity. Oh, and did I mention I am obsessed with seafood? Specifically, lobster!

Visiting Maine is like eating pasta in Italy, I am forever thankful and ruined.

The Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon
This race is Portland’s premier summertime running event that cuts through the heart of the Old Port district and West End neighborhood. Runners are treated to sweeping views of Casco Bay, its many islands, ferries, sailboats, lobster boats, tug boats, and paddlers, the Presumpscot River, the City of Portland skyline, and the Back Cove.

Water and boats as far as the eye can see

Takeaways from this race experience:
* Race expo is small and intimate – located in the heart of Old Port off of Fore street, runners can walk the expo and be in & out in a matter of minutes. 
* Maine’s second biggest road race – 4,200 entrants with more than 40 states represented. 70% of participants are actually from out of state.
The route is extremely scenic – the allure of Portland in the summer and the breathtaking views are worth running 13.1. The final few miles the of the second half of the race feature some of the course’s most scenic terrain, as runners will make their way nearly all the way around Portland’s Back Cove and Bayside trails.
* Food, food, and more seafood! – before, during and after the race, there are a multitude of incredible fresh seafood options from J’s Oysters to The Lobster Shack. Your belly should always be full!
* Bling is a factor – for most runners, and I thought race director Erik Boucher, did an excellent job with the medal.

Do you like this race bling?

If you have an extra day or two, I highly recommend visiting:

  • Lucky Catch – take an unforgettable 80-90 minute excursion in Casco Bay

    Set your own traps and reel in live whole Maine lobsters

  • Eartha – is housed in a three-story glass gallery at DeLorme Headquarters and is the world’s largest rotating/revolving globe located in Yarmouth, Maine.
  • Oxford Casino – 45 minutes outside of Portland is a small casino where runners and gamblers alike can try their luck
  • Freeport, Maine – 20 minutes outside of Portland, you will find beautiful coast lines and shopping

For your shopping fix, check out the LL Bean’s HQ

  • Lobster Shack at Two Lights – this spot has the best lobster in all the land (see photo at beginning of blog) and the most spectacular calming views

    One of many eye-popping views at Two Lights along the water

Whether you are running a half marathon or looking to visit The Pine Tree State, there are no shortage of options for you and your family.

AND if you need a lobster taste tester, you can email me anytime and I will be happy to join!

2017 Gasparilla Distance Challenge – Tampa, Florida

4 races. 4 T-shirts. 5 freaking medals. 2 days.

Tampa’s Popular Annual Road Race Draws Over 30,000 Runners

Yes, you read that correctly. The 2017 Gasparilla Distance Classic is one of the most unique races in the world which includes a full slate of running events for runners at all levels including 4 races throughout the weekend: 15k and 5k on Saturday, followed by a half marathon and 8k on Sunday.

Runners can sign up for any individual race or they can participate in one of the “challenges” below:
The Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus Challenge – 8k and 15k for a total of 14.2 miles
The Michelob Ultra Amber Challenge – 5k, 15k and Half for a total of 25.5 miles
The Michelob Ultra Challenge aka “The Grand Slam” – includes all four races (which Run4Papa participated in): 5k, 8k, 15k and Half for a total of 30.5 miles over two days!

I had several goals for the weekend: be mentally tough, run alongside my parents in the 5k and 8k races, and most importantly, have fun!

Organized by the Gasparilla Distance Classic Association, over 650,000 runners have participated in this race dating back to 1978. With predawn race starts for the 15k and Half marathon, runners get a stunning sunrise during their morning runs.

I have never run alongside another runner whose goal wasn’t to PR (aka “personal record”), especially on a course like this one which is exceptionally flat and fast. While PR’ing is a fantastic goal, I genuinely preferred this weekend to focus on the race environment, run with family for the cause, collect an absurd amount of bling and eat plenty of carbs!

Below are my key takeaways from running the Michelob Ultra Challenge:
Be friendly and open to conversation – between the race organizers and volunteers, to the runners and supporters, almost everyone I met was happy to be part of this event.
Dress up – Tampa Bay is known as a major pirate town and the entire weekend revolves around this theme. If you love Halloween, this is the costume race weekend for you!

Running alongside my friends who always have the best racing outfits

Hydrate like crazy – the weather was hot, even early in the morning. The break between each race on Saturday and Sunday is enough to give even the most fit runners cramps.
Everyone runs alongside the longest continuous sidewalk in the world – Bayshore Boulevard is a beautiful stretch with an open view of the scenic Hillsborough Bay over the runners’ shoulders in both directions. It is also home to the world’s longest continuous sidewalk so you can impress your friends with this newly discovered tidbit of running information.
Leave extra room in your suitcase  – I never understood people’s obsession with medals until this weekend. I couldn’t help but love crossing the finish line after each race and receiving a NEW medal.
The after party is a must – the post-race celebration is held near the finish line and features live bands, award ceremonies, plenty of beer and a chance to hang out with runners of all levels.

Hanging with MEB! In case you don’t know, he is the 2009 NYC and 2014 Boston marathon winner

  • The Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic runs a world class event – With 30,000 runners, separate start lines and a common finish line, multiple waves, and plenty of water stations, the race organizers don’t miss a pirate beat from start to finish and everything in between.

Crossing the finish line with my mom!

Overall, this race venue offers everything for every type of runner. If you decide to participate in the 2018 Gasparilla Distance Classic, make sure you have a creative running outfit, a neck that can support plenty of bling and a positive attitude to party like a pirate, argh!!!

To see more pictures from this race, click here

Check out the remaining R4P race destinations in 2017

  • April 30th – Oklahoma City Half Marathon (Oklahoma City, OK)
  • May – The Flying Pig Half Marathon (Cincinnati, OH, 6th), Buffalo Half Marathon (Buffalo NY, 28th)
  • June 3rd – Virginia Wine Country Half (Loundin County VA)
  • July – Old Port Half Marathon (Portland Maine, 8th), Mad Half Marathon (Waitsfield, Vermont, 9th)
  • Sept – Philadelphia Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon (16-17), Berlin Marathon (Berlin, Germany, 24th)
  • October 15th – Detroit Press Press Half Marathon (International) Detroit/Canada International, MI
  • November 4-5 – Savanah Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon (Savanah, GA)

Northwestern CNADC Advisory Board

Jason F. Boschan becomes youngest EVER advisory board member at Northwestern University

I am honored and humbled to be the youngest person EVER to be appointed to the Advisory Board of the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University! #ProudPapa

We reached our goal of $50,000!

$50,000 Donated to the Cause – Thank You!

Papa and all his grandchildren + great grandchild!

Papa and all his grandchildren + great grandchild!

With great respect, humility and support, I am pleased to announce Run4Papa has OFFICIALLY reached the $50,000 goal toward PPA research! IN FACT, we are currently at $51,619 and rising!!!

I cannot thank you enough for ALL your help along this remarkable journey! This has been an overwhelming experience and I feel so proud and honored to have people who believed in this idea from the beginning and continued to spread the word over the past 300+ days. THE CAUSE has impacted countless people, patients and families in such a positive fashion. Papa’s desire to care for children for 50 years as a pediatrician coupled with his love of life is as much inspiration as anyone would ever want or need.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart and our entire family…

Next stop? Great Wall of China Marathon!

Largest 8K in the World

Shamrock Shuffle 8K: Running season opens in the Windy City

An estimated 40,000 runner’s helped kick-off Chicago’s traditional rite of spring for the 33rd Annual Shamrock Shuffle 8K providing a celebratory atmosphere of a summer festival. Today was a day of first’s:

1. First time running without a race bib – we won’t say exactly why this ended up happening, but should you have any questions, please direct them to one  Mr. Kevin Connolly

2. First time running with Opedix tights – generously donated from CEO Kim Gustafson. This product aligns the knee joint, distributing knee “load” by reducing knee pain as well as quadriceps fatigue.

3. First time running with a GoPro camera and CamelBak – you asked for footage during the race, and you will see it this weekend!

Unseasonably warm weather made for excellent running conditions. Running enthusiasts hit the start line at Grant Park as corral after corral were released into downtown Chicago. Passing by Trump Towers, Kevin and I made our way toward Mile 1 marker and stopped to give my parents a hug/photo op – no doubt immediately posted on Facebook by my father (post-race intel determined it was 3 mins afterward). Miles 2, 3 and 4 flew as we ran past the world-famous Chicago Theatre, over several Chicago river bridges and through Chicago’s “Loop,” staring down the Sears Tower with a mile-long stretch on famed State Street all while filming several minutes of footage at a time.

From the Chicago Sun-Times, “Finishing his first 8K run was downtown resident Donny Jekels, 46. He entered because ‘two years ago I couldn’t tie my shoelaces. I wasn’t fit and I thought that was a wakeup call.‘  He said he lost 30 pounds in 2 years, using exercise and watching his diet.  The father-son running tandem of Mike and Mario Woods had their own friendly competition, which the 65-year-old dad from South Holland won.”

43 mins later, slightly behind Abdelaaziz Atmani of Indianapolis with a winning time of 23 mins 18 secs, Kevin and I finished the 4.97 mile trek with the promise of a free beer at Grant Park and music being played from a stage near Buckingham Fountain.

And what about the 3 First’s? Well…we didn’t get pulled off the course because the race was relatively laid back making for a fun run: check. The Opedix running pants definitely worked! The material was comfortable, my legs felt great, and it was clear that some pressure was being distributed away from the tough wear and tear zone of my knees: check, check. The film footage?….I wish I had thought of this sooner: check, check, check.

As for the post-race festivities, I will just leave it at this: checkmate!

To watch exclusive footage during the race, go to: Running through downtown Chicago

To see more photos, go to: Shamrock Shuffle 8K

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