by Melissa Seuster
Art McDonald loves to run. A lot. Like, 3,339 miles in 143 days. That’s an average of 23.3 miles a day.
Why would he do that, one might ask?
During a time of virtual challenges and little-to-no “live” races, Art wanted to add meaning to his miles. He recalled the story of Terry Fox, a Canadian athlete and cancer research activist who embarked on a cross-country run for cancer research, despite losing one leg to osteosarcoma. Fox got to 3,339 miles in 143 days before the cancer metastasized and forced him to stop. “My legs are a lot older, but I have two good ones,” said Art. “By completing this challenge, I was able to persevere and honor a great man.”
In addition to his personal challenge, Art accepted and met the CRAW challenge – Circumpolar Race Around the World. This virtual race started on Sept.1, 2020 with the goal of completing 30,167 miles among 10 team members. The “course” starts at the U.S. / Mexico border and moves south through Antarctica, wrapping back around the globe through the North Pole to return to the start (see https://www.craw.racing/ for details). Art’s team, Fear of the Running Dead,finished this feat in just 198 days, becoming the first run/walk team to cross the finish line! Contributing a total of 4,231 miles in just over 6 months, Art was averaging 21 miles a day. His teammate, local running legend and CRC member Joe Schlereth, led the team in mileage. They enjoyed teaming up with people from France, California, the Asia Pacific (military) and other regions in the United States.
Amazingly, Art’s impressive running career began just 11 years ago when he started running with his son, Graham. His first marathon was in 2014 in Charlotte. Since then, he has run 10 full marathons and one 50-miler, the 2017 JFK Ultra in Maryland. It was by far the most memorable of his races. “I wasn’t sure I would finish it, but Graham ran with me,” he said. He was so proud and grateful to finish that he commissioned an artist to paint a portrait of them at the finish (see below).
Although Art lives in Rock Hill, he spends a great deal of time running on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Midtown with the Run Far training program. “I just really love the Charlotte running community. It’s great to be around people achieving things.”
So what would Art tell the next generation of runners? “As long as you put one foot in front of the other, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 miles or 30 miles. Everything’s an accomplishment.”
In 2021, Art intends to run the Chicago marathon in under 4:00 hours. If traveling is not an option, he will surely be running in Charlotte.
“I believe that 99.5% of runners are encouraging. I do this to further inspire the younger generation, my son, grandchildren, and other runners.”
Thank you, Art, for providing exactly the inspiration we needed to get through 2020.
Art with Joe Schlereth Art with his son, Graham