PREBLE COUNTY — Joel Flora, maintenance worker at National Trail Local School District, recently qualified for his fifth Boston Marathon. He is able to register in September and if successful, he will run the marathon in April of 2019.
Flora’s journey began when, at the age of 35, he quit smoking. This led to him gaining some weight he wanted to get rid of. He was watching the Tour de France and got inspired to start bicycling again, something he did often as a teenager.
He began biking a couple miles a day, and before he knew it, he was biking 20 miles a day.
When he was 36, he got a membership to the YMCA to continue his training in the winter months. There, he started running. Unfortunately, he developed shin splints, but he didn’t let it stop him. He began walking on the treadmill and strengthened his shins and lower legs. When he turned 37, he was able to run without shin splints.
In 2005, the YMCA put on a 5K at Fort St. Clair, and while at first Flora was hesitant, he finally signed up. In 2006, he joined a runners club and started competing in a one race a month. He started with 5Ks, before working up to 10Ks and 15Ks.
The following year (2007), he decided to try a half marathon. In May of 2008, he had a fellow runner tell him to run marathons, in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon. He was hesitant, but trained for his first marathon in 2008. He qualified for the Boston Marathon.
However, in the months that followed his qualifier, he realized he was injured and found he needed surgery. He ran his first Boston Marathon and had surgery only days later.
The doctor told him to never run another marathon, but instead, Flora simply changed his running gait to make it safer for him to run.
A year after his surgery he was registered for his third marathon, which was the Flying Pig in Cincinnati. This led to him registering for more marathons. He made a goal to run 50 marathons and a 50 mile by the time he turned 50. This is a goal he was able to meet last September.
This year, he plans to run 12 marathons.
“I’ve always had a fall challenge, it has been going on for nine or 10 years now. Why I have these is because I’m a football fan. If they can do it every week, I can do it every week. My goal, I try to get eight to 10 races weekends in a row. Last year, I ran 17 in a row. They were 13 halves, one full, 10K, 7K, and a five miler,” Flora said.
While he ran 13 halves that fall, he actually ran 23 for the whole year. He ran 10 in the late winter and spring, but ran six in seven days during Memorial Day weekend and week, where he averaged a 1:41:42. This was also during a 100-day running streak compiling over 1,200 miles from March 5 through June 12.
This fall, Flora wants the challenge to be even greater. He has registered for, in a 10 week period, four halves and six marathons. Thus far, he has run 25 states.
Ultimately, he wants to get a qualifier at Boston Marathon. He has had years when he’s been close, but has not quite achieved that goal.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 97-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH