When Richard Stewart crosses the finish line of the 18th Annual BMO Okanagan Marathon Sunday, he will do it wearing bib No. 100.
And when he gets home Sunday evening, he will take the bib off his chest and put it in a frame.
The number isn’t a coincidence. It symbolizes a milestone for the Prince George lawyer that has been 24 years in the making.
“It took a lot of time to get here,” said Stewart, who is one race away from joining the 100 Marathon Club North America.
“I’ll allow myself a brief period of rejoicing and then move on to the next one.”
Stewart has done most of his running recently. It took him 21 years to complete the first 50 marathons. He’s completed the second 50 over the last three years.
He said his addiction was heightened in 2007 after joining Marathon Maniacs: A website dedicated to those who run multiple marathons every year.
The lawyer has built a social circle throughout the marathon scene, and often gets encouragement from fellow Maniacs while competing in marathons.
The social aspect is what Stewart looks forward to most when he travels to races. He admitted his goal is rarely based on performance.
“There are people who finish two hours ahead of me, no problem. I don’t begrudge that at all…I enjoy the event itself and I get the satisfaction of finishing.”
Stewart has learned not to worry about his time. He said he used to chase the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon but realized the only way he will compete in that race is if he’s “the colourful 100-year-old at the finish line.”
“I’ve got the monkey of time off my back.
“When you stop worrying about a particular finish time, it’s amazing how much fun these things become.”
The veteran runner feels that marathons have a fear-based connotation, based around simply surviving a gargantuan task.
“It’s nonsense…there is no limit to what the human body can accomplish.
“I saw a guy, 83-years-old, completing his 400th marathon using a cane in March of this year.”
Stewart’s addiction can be expensive. Along with the travel costs and entry fees, he commits to buying seven or eight pairs of shoes every year to ensure his feet have proper support. But the extra spending—teamed with proper training—has helped him avoid significant injuries.
This will be Stewart’s fourth time competing in the Kelowna marathon.
He said reality is finally sinking in that he will pass the 100 mark. His friends will also be in town, cheering him on throughout the day.
The BMO Okanagan Marathon and Family Festival attracts over 3,500 participants over the Thanksgiving weekend and relies on the support of 300 volunteers.
On Saturday, the three kilometre Running Room Friendship Run kicks off at 9 a.m. followed by the five kilometre race at 10 a.m. Later on, the BMO ABC Kids Run will take place at 12:40 p.m. Kids are welcome to stay in the BMO Kids Zone after their 1.6 kilometre run.
The 42.2 kilometre main event takes place Sunday at 7:15 a.m. The half marathon begins at 7:45 a.m. and the 10 kilometre trek takes off at 8:15 a.m.
All courses are certified and the marathon course is a Boston Marathon Qualifier.
For more information visit okanaganmarathon.ca.