Running man

Spring marathon brings legendary runner to Newfoundland

Published on June 9, 2007
Eighty-one-year-old marathoner Wallace Herman. Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Wallace Herman fully expects to be the oldest runner in Sundays Eastern Marathon and that suits him just fine.

At 81, he doesnt come across too many runners in his age bracket anymore, but that hasnt stopped him from continuing to enter marathons across Canada.

I was the first person to do all the provinces and territories. I just like to get around and do new marathons, Herman said from his home in Ottawa this week.

Herman will run his 692nd marathon Sunday when he enters the Eastern Marathon in Portugal Cove-St. Philips. Hes coming a long way for the event, but thats nothing new to Herman, whos run in all 50 American states and in 99 different countries. Hes run marathons in every continent on the planet and competed in three Newfoundland marathons between 1979 and 1995.

I havent been to Newfoundland in 12 years, so it was time to get back, Herman said.

Good time

Herman picked a good time to return to this province, since Sundays race is the first spring marathon the province has hosted since 1983.

Race director Ray Will said 14 people had signed up for the marathon as of Thursday, while 42 competitors are set to run the 15 km road race taking place at the same time. Will would have liked to have more runners in both categories, but thinks the numbers will increase in the future.

Its not bad considering its a brand new event, said Will.

We havent had a spring marathon in Newfoundland in quite a while and word didnt get out soon enough. I think next year will be a different matter.

Sundays course is not terribly tough, according to Will, but does have a few challenging hills.

Its a course Will said he would have liked to run in his competitive days, and is a route runners such as Herman should enjoy.

Its challenging, but not overly challenging, Will said.

Will is among a number of people involved with Sundays marathon and road race that are anxious to see Herman in action. After all, its not often an 81-year-old man lines up next to runners young enough to be his grandchildren.

Who knows what keeps a man going at that age. I just think its amazing and Im looking forward to meeting him, said Will.

Herman will wear No. 692 Sunday in honour of the number of marathons hes run (only two men have run more in North America), but that number wont be good for long since he doesnt plan on stopping any time soon. Herman is already looking for his next race, and didnt rule out coming back to Newfoundland again some day.

I just like doing it. And theres the health aspect. Its interesting to get around (to so many different cities), Herman said.

Ill keep going as long as nice guys like Ray Will allow me to enter their marathons.

Sundays marathon and 15 km road race begin at 7:15 a.m.