Varner set for 100th marathon|[01/04/08]

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 4, 2008

Mack Varner did not start running until he was 39 years old.

In fewer than 25 years since his first marathon in 1984, however, he plans to run in his 100th on Saturday at the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson.

“The biggest factor is that I really enjoy long-distance running,” said Varner, a Vicksburg attorney. “Like anything else you do it takes time and dedication.”

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Varner’s journey to the century mark began in 1984 when he, Hays Latham, Tommy Ross, Robert Sadler and Bobby Abraham ran in the New York City Marathon. He “got killed” by more seasoned runners, but it lit a flame. He ran one every year from then on, then decided to expand his running. He ran 12 marathons in 2000 and completed his 50th career marathon in 2002 in Mobile, Ala.

Varner has even moved beyond normal marathon running, participating in 31-mile ultra-marathons. Those are run through wilderness, over rocks and tree roots. His favorite, the Palo Duro Ultra-Marathon in Amarillo, Texas, is scheduled for October.

“The scenery is beautiful,” Varner said.

Varner’s career almost was derailed in 2005 when he suffered a knee injury. The chairman of the Run Thru History had his knee scoped in November of 2005. Varner said he wasn’t sure he would run again, but by March and the Run Thru History, he was back on the course.

In April of that year, he ran a full marathon.

The Mississippi Blues Marathon, the first of its kind, is scheduled to start at 7 Saturday morning in the Fondren area of North Jackson. The start-finish line will be on North State Street.

More than 1,500 runners and walkers are expected for the race, which includes a $4,000 prize for first place.

It will be the first of what Varner hopes will be a six-to-eight-marathon season. In addition, he’ll run shorter races throughout the year.