By Ted Simpson –
Mark Sutcliffe is well known as a pillar in the community for his work in the media as a radio host and columnist, for his philanthropic pursuits with the United Way and Chamber of Commerce, and also as the CEO of Great River Media, publisher of Kitchissippi Times and Ottawa Business Journal. What many people might not know is that when Mark is not wearing his business suit, he is often hitting the streets in spandex, pursuing his passion for long distance running.
Mark’s latest personal project, a book titled Long Road to Boston: The Pursuit of the World’s Most Coveted Marathon, was released in October and explores his journey to qualify for and complete the famous race.
“It was something I had dreamed about for a long time, I didn’t know if I would ever get to do it, and it was wonderful,” says Mark on tackling the biggest race in the world of marathons.
It’s safe to say that at this point in his career Mark is a seasoned writer, but he says this project has really been special for him.
“This is the most satisfying experience I’ve had as a writer. I think it’s partly a running story and I think it’s partly just the story of someone who had a goal or a dream,” says Mark. “I got a little bit obsessed with the Boston Marathon for a while, I kept working at it and working at it, and eventually I got to do it. We all have our Boston marathons, those things that we mean to do in our lives that are going to take a lot of time and effort to knock down.”
So if you know Mark Sutcliffe the media personality, here are five things to know about Mark the runner.
1. Athletic success did not come easy for him.
“When I was a kid I was small for my age and I had also skipped a year, so I was younger than all the other kids. I was always the smallest in my class and I didn’t think I was particularly athletic. So for me to do something that’s considered to be tough, is really validating for me, it was a big deal for me to run a marathon and realize that I’m really capable of doing something like that. A marathon always seemed to me to be like something only super human people could do. It changed my perspective on a lot of things.”
2. Mark qualified for Boston on his 20th marathon run.
One of the reasons the Boston Marathon is held in such high regard is that a runner must achieve a qualifying time in a previous marathon. For example, the current qualifying standard for men in Mark’s age group is three hours and 25 minutes. (Keeping in mind that a marathon is 26 miles – or 42 kilometers – long.)
“I made four serious attempts, I failed three times and made it on the fourth attempt. That was over about three years,” says Mark, who made the cut off with just 22 seconds to spare.
3. You probably want Mark on your trivia team.
Long before he was competing in athletics, Mark was dominating the arena of the mind on his Reach for the Top team at St. Pius X High School.
4. If Mark’s never run by your house, he probably will soon.
“I am going to do this some day, because this is my community, it is one of my goals to one day have run on every street in Kitchissippi. I’ve done a lot of them already, but you tend to follow the same routes over and over again, so I have to make an effort to say, I’m going to run on some different streets.”
5. He might have the motivational advice you need.
“You don’t have to run constantly, you can run and walk and run and walk, it is a long transition to become comfortable with running. If you’re not used to doing it, your body will revolt against you and try to get you to stop doing it. The first thee months, it’s not fun. It hurts. A lot of people want to go for a run and then go further and go further, you really have to go in small increments. It can really have its rewards once you get used to it.”
Read more “five things” profiles right here and learn about some of the people who make our community a great place to live.