Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Marathon Maniac, Choy Bacor, Test his Limits

Marathon Maniac Choy Bacor

   I’ve often wondered why some people look for challenges that are extremely difficult, both physically and mentally.

   Running a marathon (26.2-miles) is changeling in itself, but once you’ve conquered that magical distance why go beyond?

   For Hilo’s Choy Bacor running and finishing a marathon in 3 hours and 20 minutes just wasn’t enough as this 30 year old wanted something more.

   Several months ago Bacor learned about a trail run called the Tantalus Trek 50K (31-miles) in Honolulu and decided to give it a try.  As anyone will attest running on trails can be difficult as unsuspecting tree roots and rocks could lead to serious injury.

   “I learned about the Tantalus race about a month prior to the start,” Bacor said.  “It was a very difficult trail race as half the time I was forced to hike.  During the times I was running I had to keep my eyes focused on the trail and I never got to enjoy the views.”

   To compound the problems associated with running the trails of Tantalus Bacor failed to bring the proper gear which added to the difficulty in his trying to finish the race.

  “The beginning of the race is run in the dark and I came unprepared and was forced to keep up with a group of runners that had headlamps and flashlights,” he said.  “I also left my hydration pack for the race in my car in Hilo.”

   Bacor ran the race holding onto one water bottle and needed the assistance of some of the more experienced runners that he had met on the trails.

   “I train on the roads in Hilo and getting to run the trail was a welcome change,” Bacor said.  “The good part about running on trails is that it is more forgiving on the human body.  I loved the challenge that the course presented to me and the confidence I derived from knowing I can run a challenging trail run and survive.”

  Bacor did survive, but only after turning his ankle numerous times, accumulating a number of scratches from the bamboo branches and other trees lining the trails and after taking a hard fall on a slippery rock that bruised his tail bone.

   After 6 hours 19 minutes and 40 seconds Bacor had finished his first trail run and logged in an extremely difficult 31 miles.

   Most people might think that this was the end of the story for Choy Bacor as he would now come back to Hilo to nurse his bruised and tired body. 

   But instead of flying back to Hilo following the Tantalus Trek Run Bacor was on a flight to Kauai where he would, the very next day, run in the Kauai Marathon (26.2-miles).

Choy Bacor

“After doing Tantalus the day before the Kauai Marathon I knew it Kauai going to be much more of a burden on me physically,” Bacor said.  “I heard about how gorgeous the course was on Kauai and I wanted to take it all in.  It was also nice to see so many people from Hilo running it.”

   Bacor decided that he would run and walk the Kauai Marathon and not push the pace in order to allow his body to recover from the day before.

   “I wasn’t in any major pain,” he said.  “My butt hurt a little, but it disappeared once I started running.  My ankles were stiff, but that also subsided once I began to move.  What helped was I didn’t run Tantalus with any speed so my legs were fresh.”

  Bacor finished the Kauai event in 4:48:50 which is quite an accomplishment when you consider that he logged in more than 56 miles over the two day weekend.

  “After the weekend my body wasn’t in any major discomfort,” Bacor said.  “Keeping a consistent active lifestyle enabled me to handle the physical demands of both races.”

  Of course Bacor was in great shape prior to taking on his impressive weekend of races.  Lifting weight, swimming, paddling for Kamehameha Canoe Club and maintaining a 50 mile per week running routine all contributed to his being able to run two extreme distances without any major injuries.

  “Running both races didn’t seem that big of a deal to me at the time,” Bacor said. 

  Two weeks after his strenuous weekend Bacor was out racing again, this time tackling the Maui Marathon.

   “It isn’t a big deal to me because at my age and being a runner I’m supposed to be able to do things like this,” Bacor said of his three distance races.  “I hear stories all the time of people running 100 marathons and finishing 100-mile races and some of these runners are in their 60’s and 70’s.

   “Running means so much to me, it is the ultimate stress reliever,” Bacor said.  “When going for runs by myself I’m able to have moments of clarity and insight.  Stress seems to just brush off my shoulders and I’m able to just focus on the run.  I guess it’s one of those moments that only a distance runner knows.”

   Bacor now has his sights set on making a qualifying time for the 2011 Boston Marathon.

   “I need to run at sub 3 hour 11 minute marathon to qualify for Boston for my age group,” Bacor said.

   With the heart, persistence and discipline that Choy Bacor exhibits I’m sure that he’ll reach his goal of qualifying for and running in his first Boston Marathon.

   Bacor serves as a good example of someone who has focus in maximizing his athletic potential, but he is the exception, not the norm in physical and mental strength.

   Each of us should be striving to do what we can in providing the necessary exercise that our bodies require, which means to get out there and get physically active each day for 30 minutes or more.

   Swim, bike, jog or walk – whatever it takes to get your heart rate up for a prolonged period of time to insure good health for a lifetime.

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Running on the Big Island | , , , , | 1 Comment

WORLD RECORD HOLDER LARRY MACON IN HILO

A few Saturdays ago saw the 18th annual Hilo to Volcano Ultra Marathon take place.  The event starts at Moku Ola (Coconut Island) as sea level, and then runs along the Volcano Highway up to the finish line at Cooper Center, a distance of 31-miles.

    About 30 hardy endurance runners from around Hawaii and part of the Continental U.S. took part and among them was a world record holder.

    Larry Macon, a practicing attorney from San Antonio, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for completing 105 marathons (distance of 26.2-miles or further) all in the same year.

   I know what you’re thinking, that this man must be insane and Macon would most likely agree with you.

  I spoke with Macon shortly after finishing his 105th marathon in December 2008 and he had this to say, I finished with 105 and apparently nobody has ever been that crazy before.”

  What’s surprising is that Macon stumbled upon the record when he ran 93 marathons in 2007 someone told him that he was pretty close to a world record.

   “I was running about 79 marathons a year prior to doing 93 in 2007,” Macon said.  “Then when somebody told me I came close to a record I contacted Guinness and they said the record was 99.”

   That’s when Macon got the idea to see if he could surpass that mark in 2008.  “When I hit 50 marathons at the midway point in the year I decided, why not go for it!” he said.

    To accomplish his record setting feat Macon had to run two marathons each weekend and tied another record when he ran two marathons in the same day.  “On May 25 I ran the Darkside Marathon in Georgia and the Vermont City Marathon,” Macon said.

   Macon’s wife is also a lawyer and her hobby is raising miniature horses, for which she has 600 on their ranch.

   With Larry running marathons around the county almost every weekend the couple only has time to see each other during the week.

   “I have no interest in raising horses and I prefer to be going out for a run,” he said.  “We’ve been married for 40 plus years, so it seems to work, it’s pretty good thing.”

   Macon did his first marathon 14 years ago and has been hooked on the experience ever since.  “I run marathons because I want to and because its fun, so setting this sort of record is sort of a surprise to me,” he said.

   Now here’s the most surprising thing to me in researching this story and that is that Larry Macon set his world record last year at age 63.  That’s right, Larry is a senior citizen but he doesn’t fit the stereotype of someone who should be collecting social security and playing with his grandchildren.

   In his 14 year history as a distance runner Macon has finished more than 500 races and is a member of the 50 state club (finishing at least one marathon in every state) and ‘Marathon Maniacs’.

   And this trial attorney, like many superstar athletes, has his pre race superstitions.  “I go through this elaborate work in the way I tie my shoes.” Macon said.

   “I won’t do the race unless I get my shoelaces tied a specific way.  They have to be tied in bunny ears.  What happened was I had a really good run doing that and you never know, maybe that’s what caused it and I never want to tempt fate.”

    So Macon’s presence at the little Hilo to Volcano event was his seventh marathon of the month and later that evening he was on a plane heading to Maui to do yet another marathon along with a few of his Hawaii buddies from the Marathon Maniacs crew.

   “I came here last year because I have enjoyed the Hilo Marathon and the Volcano Marathon,” Macon said.  “I keep coming back because I enjoy the camaraderie and the challenging course.”

   Macon, who is a vegetarian, “the only vegetarian in the state of Texas,” he said with a grin, continues to impress everyone with his ability to stay injury free as he continues his ‘Forest Gump” adventures.

    “I believe in living as if there is no tomorrow and to never look back,” he said.

 

    “Who is the happiest of men?  He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though ‘twere his own,” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

    And someday should you happen to see a happy runner come trotting through Bayfront remember to smile, say ‘”woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”

    

   

 

February 23, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , | 2 Comments