Jim Lynch will retire from marathon running with a bang on Sunday – by taking part in his 100th and final race in Colorado.
“It’s been 25 years in the making,” said the 57-year-old from Kihei. “It’s taken some time and it’s not only monumental but I’ve also learned a tremendous amount about life and people and places and everything during that time and it’s really been a life-changer for me.”
Lynch ran his first marathon in Los Angeles in 1989.
“I didn’t have a plan to run 100 marathons when I started,” he said. “I just had a plan to run a couple of them. I started my first marathon in 1989 and then I moved to Denver in 1995 and I had nine marathons under my belt and I just wanted to get 10. I met some runners, one in particular, David (Zon-ker) and we made a decision to run all 50 states together and we made that commitment and completed it. He stopped running and I kept running and I figured, ‘I’m going do 100 and that’s my goal.’ ”
Lynch completed his 50-state bid in Rhode Island in 2006.
“You don’t think about if you’re going to do all 50 states when you first start because there’s so many to do,” Lynch said. “But as you continue to go along you have a different experience in each one of those states. It became more and more exciting, and I think at the halfway mark after having 25 marathons under our belt, I think that’s where it really became obvious that this was a very, very strong and necessary goal that I had.”
Lynch’s best time – 3 hours, 28 minutes, 37 seconds – came in Chicago in 1992.
“Running is intercepted through my life and has really developed and formed my life and got me to where I am today,” he said. “If it wasn’t for running I don’t know where I’d be today.”
Lynch and his wife, Debbie, moved to Maui in 2012 after more than a decade of visits.
“Living here on Maui for the last couple years, I have to be very creative with my running and I have to be very motivated,” he said. “I do a lot of running in Kihei on South Kihei Road. My last marathon is going to be downhill so I’ve gone close to the top of Haleakala and run down to the Kula Lodge, 14, 18 miles each time, to get in shape for that. I’ve done all of this by myself and I’m very happy running by myself. I enjoy it, I can get motivated.”
He insists the Colorado Ma-rathon in Fort Collins will be his last race.
“A lot of people know how big of a runner and marathoner I am and they think that it’s crazy talk when I say I’m going to stop running marathons after 100 and go down and do smaller races,” Lynch said. “They say, ‘We’ll see you at marathon 101.’ ”
Lynch, who has run the Maui Marathon four times and the Maui Oceanfront Mara-thon three times, says he wants a tighter bond with the island’s runners.
“There are two reasons why I am going to cut off mara-thons,” he said. “One, I want to do more for the running community. I think I can be very inspirational to the average runner to help them get the mental and physical motivation behind them to achieve either a mara-thon, half marathon or whatever race they’re looking forward to. The second thing is that I want to get a little faster and run more of the local Maui races. I really want to get involved locally with running out here on Maui.”
Lynch is also finishing a memoir titled “One Foot in Front of the Other.” He hopes to publish in November.
“When you run a marathon the crowd is cheering you on telling you, ‘You can do it,’ ‘You’re a hero,’ when you go by. Then coming down and crossing the finish line of a marathon and having a volunteer place a medal around your neck knowing you’ve just accomplished 26.2 miles, I’m going to miss all that,” he said.
“It’s really going to be a very emotional and memorable day for me when I cross that finish line on May 4.”