McClodden on pace for 32 marathons in 12 months

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 10, 2000

Alfred McGlodden, 33, of Tallulah shows some of the medals he’s won over the past year. (The Vicksburg Post/ROB MAXWELL)

It would take nearly 14 hours to drive 841.6 miles. In a plane, it would take a little over two hours. For Tallulah’s Alfred McClodden, it has taken about a year and the speed he’s done it in is more incredible than either a car or a jet.

When McClodden, 33, completes the second marathon he’s scheduled for this month, he will have run 32 marathons 26.3 miles each, 841.6 miles total in one year. He plans to run in a marathon in Seattle Thanksgiving weekend, which would give him a marathon in all four corners of the country and 26 states.

It’s a staggering total that has left even his fellow marathoners shaking their heads in disbelief. Most do only three or four per year.

“The driving alone would kill me,” said Vicksburg marathoner Mack Varner, who has run nearly 40 marathons since 1985. Varner was one of several runners who stopped to take a peek at the medals and ribbons McClodden has accumulated from his travels.

McClodden said he just enjoys running.

“I’m not crazy. My goals are just a little different from theirs,” McClodden said.

Some of those goals include breaking the 3-hour mark, qualifying for the 2004 Olympic trials and becoming a “50-stater,” part of a group of runners whose goal is to run a marathon in every state, plus the District of Columbia. To become a member of the group, a runner must complete marathons in 20 states.

Because of the expense and the logistics of scheduling and travel, it usually takes a runner several years to hit the 20-state mark. McClodden did it in eight months.

“I saw one guy with a shirt there in Baton Rouge and I thought it was neat that this guy is going to run in every state in the United States,” McClodden said. “After about seven of them I met a guy and he was with a group and they were all wearing (the shirts). And I said, Well, I’m going to go ahead and get in it,’ and from that point on I started pushing.”

He has run a total of 45 races, including shorter runs like 5Ks and 10Ks, and has run marathons as close as two days apart. His fastest time came in his first marathon, a 3-hour, 5-minute run in October 1999 in Baton Rouge, but his best showing may have been in his last marathon.

He crossed the tape in 3 hours, 8 minutes in the Silver State Marathon in Reno, Nev., on Aug. 27. The time was good enough to finish sixth overall and qualify him for the Boston Marathon in April.

“I wasn’t trying to qualify for Boston in Reno, because when I go out west those are some hard marathons because of the altitude,” said McClodden, who hopes to cut his time to the 2-hour, 20-minute range to qualify for the Olympic trials.

Despite the incredibly grueling schedule, McClodden says he hasn’t come close to hitting the wall yet. He plans to slow down before Boston, but not because he’s physically tired. He’s hit another kind of wall, the one that keeps most people from even dreaming of running as much as he does.

He’s running out of vacation time.

McClodden, a secretary for the Madison Parish school board, was able to use an abundance of accumulated vacation and sick days, combined with the school calendar’s built-in off days, to travel to his races. Now that the days are running out, he’ll be limited in his ability to schedule races.

“I was able to get a lot of them towards the end of the school year, so I wanted to make sure I got to 20 before this school year started because I knew I wouldn’t have as many days off as I did then,” McClodden said.

And he needs all the extra days he can get. McClodden drives to every race he runs, whether it’s in Reno or Clinton. His multi-colored Ford has 89,000 miles on it, but McClodden says he just put in a new engine.

For practical reasons, and to save money, he’ll often sleep in his car while traveling.

McClodden hopes to pick up a major sponsor one day, but hasn’t had any luck yet.

“You can’t say you’re going to get a hotel because you don’t know where you’re going to stop or where you’re going to get sleepy at,” he said.

It’s a miracle he doesn’t get sleepy or collapse just from some of his training runs.

Since starting with a single one-mile run for exercise in 1995, McClodden has built up enough stamina to conquer two loops of the Vicksburg Military Park roughly 32 miles the week before a race.

“I’ll be tired a lot of times, but I have to do it because I know if I’m going to be ready for the next marathon I have to do it,” he said.

Being single also helps him to meet the demands of being a full-time runner.

“They’ve been telling me when you get married you won’t be able to do it,” he said.

“But when I get married, running will probably be so down in my life. Right now marathoning takes a lot of work.”