October 19 marks the 100th marathon for John Henrich
After 16 years, John Henrich is returning to where it all started. Where running became a big part of his life. Where he ran his first marathon in 1997. At that time the Kansas City Marathon course crossed state lines and hit both Missouri and Kansas. “We had all kinds of weather that day, rain, snow, thunder and lightning,” said Henrich. “I ran it with two friends. It was a good experience, although the weather could have been better.”
While running a first marathon is a pretty significant event, this is not where the story begins. In 1994, at the age of 34, Henrich decided to become a runner and participated in his first race.. “I started running for general health reasons,” he said. “I had been swimming but was getting bored with it.”
Henrich was on a business trip in Kansas City when he and a group of co-workers decided on a Saturday night to run the Trolley Run the next morning. The sense of camaraderie among the runners before the race stayed with him and he was hooked. Since then he has completed 98 marathons and several half marathons.
A close friend ran the Kansas City marathon with Henrich 16 years ago and they have been running together ever since, completing 33 marathons together. For most of the training, it’s just the two of them but on occasion, they will be joined by other friends.
“We have talked our share of politics, religion, current events, job issues, etc.,” said Henrich. “Our kids were in elementary school when we started and now they are all out of college. We also used the runs as therapy sessions during our parents’ illnesses and their deaths.”
At one point Henrich decided to set a goal of finishing 50 marathons by his 50th birthday. He increased his running to achieve his goal by completing one marathon a month and quickly exceeded his goal when he completed 81 marathons by his birthday. With less than 20 to go, 100 seemed like the next logical goal.
Over the years Henrich has picked races for many different reasons. In addition to his goal of 100 marathons, he also planned to run a marathon in every state so location was key. He enjoys the larger marathons and has run almost every large marathon in the US.
“There is no better way to see a new city than to run 26.2 miles through it,” he said. “Usually race organizers select routes that focus on key sites, similar to what the KC Marathon accomplishes with its course.”
The top five marathons Henrich would like to run again are New York, Boston, Paris, Berlin and Chicago. “I am from Massachusetts and many people think that the Boston marathon would be my favorite, but it’s not,” he said. “The NYC Marathon is my favorite. Running through the five boroughs with the tremendous crowd support is unmatched anywhere.” Henrich hopes to one day complete marathons in London, Madrid, Tokyo, Sydney and Rome.
Over the years he has been very fortunate and hasn’t suffered any major running injuries but his biggest mistake is sometimes not properly hydrating before a race. Favorite products he can’t run without? Vaseline and band-aids. “Chafing is not fun,” he said.
No running goals for Henrich after he completes his 100th marathon on October 19, but he would like to start climbing and Kilimanjaro is high on his bucket list. He also plans to keep running half marathons but isn’t sure if he will continue with full marathons.
Advice for first time runners? “Just do it,” he said. “Running isn’t about how you measure up to others. I have seen all shapes and sizes running, and they all have one thing in common, they made the decision to get out there and do it.”
By Marla Hanover, Communications and Social Media Manager