Saturday, May 18, 2024

Chen eyes 100th marathon

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Chen’s prized possession is his collection of Tarawera Ultra marathon medals, a compilation of 50km, 60km and 100km distances.

Seventy-two-year-old Ronald Chen will join a prestigious group next week, running his 100th full marathon.

The Howick local will become the 59th member of the New Zealand 100 marathon club which includes some of the country’s most prestigious runners.

Chen ran his first marathon in 2013 on Auckland’s North Shore at the ripe age of 63 and has completed 94 more since turning 65.

“About 10 years ago I was challenged by one of my classmates in Taiwan at a graduation reunion to learn how to run,” he says.

“My first run was very tough. It was only about 5km but I was struggling with the first one. I wanted to give up but just kept thinking there was someone slower than me out there,” says Chen.

Chen says he kept improving on his weekly 5km runs and extended the distance until deciding to run his first half-marathon in Tauranga.

“That was very tough, I was cramping for about a week afterwards, but I finished,” he says.

Ten years later, Chen successfully completed his 99th full marathon on Saturday in Hutt Valley, running in the Ian Priest Memorial Marathon held by Aurora Harriers Club, Wellington.

His 100th will be run at the Auckland Domain on Tuesday January 24, in the first 8th continent marathon, which runs eight half or full marathons on eight continents in eight days.

Chen has documented every single marathon that he has featured in, keeping scrapbooks containing all of his certificates.

Fittingly, Chen runs in the ‘Legend’ category, for runners over the age of 65.

He has completed more than 120 marathons and 300 half-marathons. The 120 marathons include 36 ultra-marathons, which do not count to the total of full marathons run.

His prized possession is his collection of Tarawera Ultra marathon medals, a compilation of 50km, 60km and 100km distances.

During his 99 marathons, Chen has run the Tokyo, Melbourne, Taiwan and Inca Trail marathons.

His longest run was 168km which he completed in 34 hours.

He is currently an associate member of the NZ 100 marathon club, which can be joined once you run more than 60 marathons.

“I kept every single certificate that I have received from marathons in scrapbooks and numbered them from one to 99 to remember how far I have come,” says Chen.

Chen has had a lot of attention around his running over the years.

During lockdown in 2021, he ran a series of different trail marks named ‘strava arts’ in the shapes of a Kiwi, the Australian map, Godzilla and others.

“I would study the map and then place the route and mark every corner where I needed to turn to make the art,” Chen says.

Chen ran a series of ‘strava arts’ during lockdown in 2021 to entertain friends and fellow runners.

Chen averaged around 100km per week during that time.

“I just wanted to entertain my friends and myself when the world was going through such a difficult period,” he says.

Chen says he has at least another 50 marathons in him and will keep running until he can no longer.

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