Norfolk Resident Runs a Sub-3 Hour Marathon 30 Years after First Sub-3 Hour Marathon

Issue Date: 
December, 2018
Article Body: 

On October 21, marathon runner Michael Dunlop completed the Baystate Marathon in Lowell in a time of 2:59:28. Although the relatively flat course is conducive to fast times, the weather presented the runners with chilly and very windy conditions. Dunlop reported that the weather conditions combined with the fast course were offsetting factors, thereby presenting the runners with a fair test over the 26.2 mile marathon distance. Throughout the race, Dunlop maintained a very consistent pace a couple of minutes below 3 hours. Having already run 26 other marathons, the experienced Dunlop knew that this additional time buffer could be very pivotal. And he was absolutely correct, since he did break 3 hours with only 32 seconds to spare.
The sub 3-hour barrier is an accomplishment that few runners achieve (according to Runner’s World, approximately 2% of all marathon runners who complete a marathon in a given year will run under 3 hours). What makes Dunlop’s achievement even more inspiring is that his recent sub-3 hour marathon comes 30 years after his first (and only) sub-3 hour marathon. Breaking 3 after 30 years is an accomplishment that only a handful of runners have achieved worldwide.
As a teenager, Dunlop ran the 1988 Boston Peace Marathon (which was a popular fall marathon back in the mid-to-late 1980s). Beginning in historic Concord Common, runners traversed the 26.2 mile distance through several towns en route to a downtown finish at Boston’s Government Center. Dunlop recalls that day as cold, rainy, and windy. Yet despite the conditions, the 18-year-old Dunlop crossed the finish line in 2:54:18.
After more than 10 years of inactivity and injuries, the now 48 year-old Dunlop attributes his running resurgence to many important factors. In addition to smart training with an emphasis on quality, as well as running as much as possible on more forgiving surfaces such as trails and grass, Dunlop also acknowledges proper nutrition and his daily yoga practice to his recent success. There is no doubt that diet and the benefits of yoga (e.g., flexibility, balance, breathing, and mental focus) have tremendously benefitted his running.
He also gives credit to his teammates for his success. Dunlop recently joined the Dirigo Running Club, which is a highly competitive running team that competes in the New England region of the United States of America Track and Field (USATF) Association. The “sub-3 hours, after 30 years” is an accomplishment that can inspire other runners on the benefits of a holistic training approach and how to embrace and appreciate the inevitability of getting older while still remaining competitive.
Next up for Dunlop is the 2019 BAA Boston Marathon. Even though he is well under the qualifying time standards, Dunlop plans to run the marathon in support of one of the BAA’s charitable organizations.