April 2008 Issue
Man on the Run
He’s seen the great redwoods of California and met Mickey Mouse at Disney World. He’s experienced the tropical sunsets of Hawaii and the blustery winds of North Dakota. In fact, Gary Nuss has traveled to every major nook and cranny of the United States, but not for a vacation or even a glorified road trip.
Thirteen years ago, the Gahanna resident set the goal of running a marathon in every state. That ambition became reality in October when he crossed the finish line at the Green Mountain Marathon in South Hero, Vermont, becoming certified by the 50 States Marathon Club, an online runner’s organization. He has the distinction of being the 22nd person from Ohio to meet that challenge.
Nuss has invested blood, sweat and tears into the more than 1,300 miles he’s logged on foot. “Really, running has become a passion and an addiction,” the 49-year-old says. “An obsession.”
Nuss began running two to three miles a day 19 years ago as a means to quit smoking, and while he hasn’t touched a cigarette since, his mileage slowly escalated. In 1991 he ran the Columbus Marathon, which served as a kick-off to his cross-country goal.
In between jogging every weekday morning and during his lunch break and setting out on longer runs over the weekend, Nuss racks up about 40 miles per week on the road.
Along the way, he had toyed with the idea of running a marathon in every state. Once his wife, Pam, saw his eagerness to reach that milestone, she told him to hurry up and get it done. Thus began a steady stream of booked flights across the United States: During the past three years alone, he’s raced in 35 marathons.
Nuss, however, is quick to add that he makes these efforts for self-discipline rather than out of a need for speed.
“Running marathons is a way for me to set goals,” he explains. “I set goals and I train to those goals. “If I wasn’t running a marathon, I don’t think I’d be out running every day.”
With one objective under his belt, Nuss’ next endeavor is to complete the 14 marathons taking place in Ohio this year, and run in 100 marathons overall (at this point he’s made it through 62).
However, he promised his wife that the 50-state extravaganza wouldn’t be on the list again.
“It’s cute when you run it once,” he says, laughing. “You’re a little crazy to do it a second time.”
— Rachael Brugger