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Vermont Native Runs A Marathon A Day For 95 Days, Breaking World Record

Woman standing with mountains behind her.
Alyssa Amos Clark, courtesy
Alyssa Amos Clark has broken the women's world record for most consecutive days running a marathon distance.

Alyssa Amos Clark, who grew up in Bennington and now lives in Florida, jogged a marathon distance, 26.2 miles, every day for 95 consecutive days, shattering the previous women's world record of 61 days. And she only stopped after 95 days because she tested positive for COVID-19.

Clark spoke to VPR's Mitch Wertlieb. Their interview is below. It has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Alyssa Amos Clark: I was starting to feel a little bit down, but it's really hard to know. We're in a very hot environment, so you know, there is general fatigue. [It can be hard to tell if] you're feeling symptoms or just it's hot, [and you're] getting up early and all that. So I took a little bit to kind of realize that it was more than just regular fatigue. So I stopped at 95. That was the last day that I ran. It was a pretty quick decision. Once I realized that they were symptoms and I needed to be tested, I did not prolong. I did not want to put any more strain on the health care system or cause potential issues for myself or other people in the future.

Mitch Wertlieb: Well, let's get back to the unbelievable accomplishment of running 95 consecutive marathon distances. Every day you'd get up and run at least 26.2 miles.

Yes, I would. It's funny, I had this question earlier of did I break it up into, you know, running half a marathon in the morning and half a marathon at night? And my rule was once I started, I was running the whole marathon until I was done. It sounds far crazier when you say it out loud. I honestly lost track of what marathon I was on. So I had other people telling me.

More from VPR: A Conversation With A Skyrunner Grounded By COVID-19

Why do you do this?

You know, it started out when were living in Naples, Italy, as my husband is in the U.S. military. And as you know, Italy was hit very hard by the virus a bit earlier than states. And in Italy, everyone was locked down in our homes. We were not allowed to run or walk outside. And so I was trying to find a way to keep myself motivated. I stumbled upon the idea of running a marathon every day, and we luckily had been given a treadmill about a year earlier. And so I thought I would run a marathon every day. So I started March 31. What about about 50 marathons? And then they kept extending the lockdown. So by the time I got to about 30, I thought, I might as well just go for 60 at this point.

You set this record while also overcoming some serious previous medical problems. You had a condition that necessitated the removal of your colon. Is that right? When did the surgery occur and how long did you need to recover before you could start your running career again?

Well, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 10 years old and had my colon removed when I was 14. So the summer before I started high school was just kind of a challenging time. But running has always been this thing that I feel free when I'm doing it, and it really is a home to me. And so really, my running career didn't start until I was 22. I always run for enjoyment. Before that, when I had my first surgery to remove my colon, I was out running and training maybe a month or so after that. And then I had a second surgery three months later to remove the ostomy bag and attach a j-pouch made out of my small intestine, that acts as a pseudo-colon. After that, I just kind of took off from there. And I think that knowing what can be taken away from you at an instant is an inspiration to continue for it and to be thankful for what you have and the opportunity you have to pursue it. So I think that those moments in my life really defined my passion for going after these goals.

Now, you grew up in Bennington. I think you also lived in Stratton for a while, is that correct?

Yes, it is.

So are you a native Vermonter?

Born and raised, a proud Vermonter.

Do you miss Vermont at all?

I can't imagine a better place to grow up.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Mitch Wertlieb @mwertlieb.

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A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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