By ROBERT LINNEHAN
Running a marathon is a daunting thought. How do you train your body after a life of chips and beer to one day run 26.2 miles? For most it’s the achievement of a lifetime, but what do you do when you finish the marathon and think to yourself, “Hey, I could run four more of these right now?”
Most of us probably won’t have that pop into our heads. This reporter was winded after writing the first paragraph of the article. But, for Miriam Gilbert, that exact thought came into her head after completing her first marathon in 1993.
Fast forward 18-years later and this 52-year-old resident of Voorhees, wife and mother, just completed her first 100.8 mile race, the “Philly 100” in just a shade over 28-hours.
It begs the question, why would somebody do this?
“It’s always about a new challenge. You train for this, you put in your miles, and you just visualize coming to the finish,” Gilbert said. “I started running just to stay healthy and I love the outdoors a lot as well. I’m 52 and I’ve been running for over 20 years. I was running when I was pregnant with both of my children. I ran my first half-marathon when my son was six-months-old and I started to train right after he was born.”
Only three women completed the Philly 100 — which consists of eight laps around Fairmount Park — and Gilbert came in second place. Running for 15-minutes and walking for a pace of three-minutes, Gilbert said she was pleased with her time, despite having to walk the final two laps because of severe blistering.
Blisters, twisted ankles, severe cramping, it’s all part of the game when you’re running 100-miles, Gilbert said. It just wouldn’t be a race unless she lost most of her toenails as well, she said with a chuckle.
It started 20-years ago, Gilbert said, when she ran the annual Haddonfield 5K race. She found she was hooked to running and ran her first half-marathon in 1991, just six months after giving birth to her son. She ran her first marathon in 1993, and then pumped out nine more marathons before running her first 58-mile marathon in 2005, a race in Washington, D.C. She ran five of these 58-mile marathons after that, but she needed something new.
“I ran a few after that. One day I decided that I needed a new challenge; I saw the Philly 100 and thought to myself ‘Wow’ I need to do this,” she said.
She called on her running crew — her husband, Jon, and two children — and they gave her the go-ahead to try it. Her husband was her pacer throughout the event and her son was the one who had to wrap her feet when the blisters started. They also provided her with bananas, nine of them, to eat during the race for fuel.
But what’s next for the runner? What could be a bigger challenge?
“One of my goals is to run the Badwater. The Badwater is 137 miles in Death Valley in July. It gets as cold as 42-degrees at night and as hot as 140-degrees in the day,” she said. “I’m always plotting, scheming and planning and then I take it from there. It’s good, my family has been so supportive, and they’re always there for me.”
Knowing Gilbert, she’ll probably finish the Badwater and think to herself, “Hey, why not just run back?”