Who are the Marathon Maniacs and How Do I Qualify?

I have a couple friends who have mentioned that they are a ‘marathon maniac,’ but I have to admit that I did not know what that entailed. I know some races advertise as being a great race to pair with another, like ‘earning your mittens’ by running one marathon in Michigan and one in Wisconsin, but that’s not the same as the Marathon Maniacs. If you haven’t heard, the Maniacs are an official group of people who truly deserve the title.

Marathon ManiacsIn doing my research, I reviewed all of the Marathon Maniacs materials, and I gotta say, I said “yes” to almost all of the questions on the front page of the Maniacs siteDo your thoughts switch to the next scheduled race immediately after finishing a marathon? Yes, and if I don’t have a race scheduled, I feel lost and weird. Are you signed up for more than one race right now? You betcha! I already have a full race schedule for 2014. Have you run marathons on back to back weekends? Or better yet back to back days? Oh, goodness, no. No I have not.

My first marathon was last fall and I trained for it for MONTHS. I trained much longer than the Hal Higdon plan I followed. So maybe I’m not yet ready to become a Marathon Maniac, but looking at all the fun the marathon maniacs are having, I’m starting to consider it.

What exactly is a Marathon Maniac? Good question! Turns out there are nine different levels. A newbie like me can aim for the Bronze Level: two marathons within sixteen days, or three marathons within ninety days. That sounds a little bit nuts, but it also sounds like an awesome challenge! That’s the draw of the Marathon Maniacs. It’s a healthy mix of insanity, silliness, and of course, lots of running.

The categories go up from Bronze to levels of difficulty that I can’t even imagine. I know a heck of a lot of runners, but I don’t think I know any Marathon Maniacs who have reached the top levels. Allow me to explain the criteria for each level:

Bronze Level:

  • 2 Marathons within a 16 day time frame
  • 3 Marathons within a 90 day time frame

Silver Level:

  • 3 Marathons within a 16 day time frame
  • 6 Marathons in 6 consecutive calendar months
  • 8 – 11 Marathons within 365 days

Gold Level:

  • 4 Marathons within 37 days
  • 12 – 18 Marathons within 365 days
  • 4 Marathons in 4 different US states, Countries or Canadian Provinces (any combination) 51 days

Iridium Level:

  • 4 Marathons in 23 days, or 19 – 25 Marathons within 365 days
  • 2 Marathons in 2 days (or 48 hours) must finish both races!
  • 9 Marathons in 9 different US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days

Palladium Level:

  • 38 – 44 Marathons within 365 days
  • 20 Marathons in 20 US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days
  • 13 Marathons within 79 days

Ruthenium Level:

  • 3 Marathons within 3 days, 26 – 30 Marathons within 365 days
  • 4 Marathons within a 9 day window
  • 3 Marathons in 3 separate US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within a 10-day time span
  • 13 Marathons in 13 different US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days

Platinum Level:

  • 45 – 51 Marathons within 365 days
  • 23 Marathons in 23 US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days
  • 28 Marathons within 183 days

Osmium Level:

  • 31 – 37 Marathons within 365 days
  • 16 Marathon in 16 different US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days
  • 6 Marathons within 16 days. With proper planning and rest this can be done!
  • 4 Marathons in 4 days = QUADZILLA

Titanium Level:

  • 52 Marathons or more within 365 days
  • 30 Marathons in 30 US states, Countries, or Canadian Provinces (any combination) within 365 days
  • 20 Countries within 365 days

I don’t know what some of these elements are (ruthenium? I must have missed that one on the periodic table!), but they sound intense. Four marathons in four days!? How do you even plan for that? Are there marathons on Mondays? I’m not sure, but the even crazier thing is that people have actually done these and joined the ranks of the most maniacal of the Marathon Maniacs. They might blend in. You might even know one and see that they seem like a normal person, but they’re not. They’re nutty and wonderful and magical, like the unicorns of the running world. If you want to join them, there are some other things you should know.

In order to officially become a Marathon Maniac, first you have to run the races. They have to be races that can be verified, and not training runs. Plus, an ultra doesn’t count as two marathons—sorry! After running the races that correspond with a level, then you visit the membership section of the Maniacs page, and send in your information. Also, you really should check the FAQ to make sure you’re not missing anything.

The Marathon Maniacs didn’t just appear from nowhere as a way to let us categorize our craziness. There’s a story behind the Maniacs, and that is where the “Main Maniacs” come in. Steve Yee, Chris Warren, and Tony Phillippi are the Main Maniacs who started this tradition, and lead the circus of runners who join the Maniac ranks. The three of them were just some runners who loved running marathons and tried to fit in as many as possible. The story goes that they felt they were “amongst a bunch of Marathon Maniacs,” one of them said so in an email, and the name just stuck. The rest is running history!

Readers should also know about a different category of crazy runner: the Half Fanatics. Instead of marathons, the criteria are similar but with half marathons. Many of the levels are much more realistic for those of us who are just a little less crazy. Check out the levels and membership info at HalfFanatics.com.

What do you think? Does this sound like fun or like some sort of awful running nightmare? If you’re on the fence, check out these nuts in the Marathon Maniac Newsletter. Look how happy they are! Alright, I’m convinced. Becoming a Marathon Maniac is going on my 2014 bucket list. And make sure to check out the links because there is a lot of material to help you figure out if you’re ready to become a Marathon Maniac or not!

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