Colorful Col. manages marathon mania

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Stephan Coleman
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Running 26 miles may not sound like a hobby for most, but for people like Lt. Col. Teal Clark, 2nd Air Force operations director, it quickly became an obsession.

Clark, who has ran just under 60 marathons in 4 years with 34 of them completed in 2013, sees marathons as a paradox of struggle and relaxation.

"It's the perfect escape from the job," said Clark. "You have time to be alone and relax, think things through. Although most people see it as this giant, impossible thing, anybody can do it. It's all about how you train and prepare yourself mentally. But, it never gets easier."

Now a certified Marathon Maniac, Clark's first experience with marathon running was a half marathon that she was coaxed into begrudgingly. In late 2009, she agreed to do a half marathon with coworkers in Texas, but ended up being the only one of them to show.

"After that, I noticed the Boston Marathon was coming up, so I worked up to the full race," said Clark. "I thought I would do one and be finished, but the 2500 anniversary of the Battle of Marathon was happening in Athens in 2010 and that's when I got hooked. That's where I found out about the Marathon Maniacs."

The Marathon Maniacs is a runner's group that established itself in 2003 by Steve Yee, Chris Warren and Tony Phillippi. The group keeps a calendar of marathons and tracks members completed runs for friendly competition.

"We feel that marathon running is a great addiction," The founders have stated. "And with support from others who feel the same way, that addiction will grow stronger."

To join the club, one must run two marathons in 16 days, or three in 90 days, and members can earn stars for running a higher frequency. Ten stars is the max, denoted by "titanium," and requires a member to run 52 in a year, run in 30 different states in a year or run in 20 different countries in a year.

Clark made her way into the Titanium ranks in December of 2013, according to Steve Yee, the Marathon Maniac president.

Clark is also pursuing the 50 states marathon club, which has no time limit, but with 34 total states so far, she isn't far off.

"The proper advice is that you should only do two a year and you should taper your training up to and down from your marathons," said Clark. "It does beat you up doing strings of marathons, but at times the travel is harder than doing the runs."

Clark has traveled as far from Keesler as Utah, New York and California to complete runs for her list.

Completing the goal of 50 states, and eventually 100 marathons, will be scenic to say the least, but Clark's biggest investment in her mania are the friendships she has established.

"Most of the marathons are around the best time of the year and highlight the greatest areas of the country," said Clark. "But what made the obsession so easy was the camaraderie. It's about meeting people of different backgrounds and uniting for the same struggle."