For the 200th time since 1974, Doug Kurtis has completed a marathon in less than three hours, and he couldn’t have picked a better place to do it.
The 61-year-old Motor City native hit the milestone—and broke his own record for the longest span between a runner’s first and last sub-three-hour marathon—on Sunday, Oct. 21, at the Detroit Free Press Marathon, finishing in 2:59:03.
Kurtis, a former Detroit Marathon race director and five-time qualifier for the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, said last week he intended Sunday’s race to be his last at such an impressive pace, and in a post-race interview with the Free Press, he echoed that sentiment.
“I’ll run some more marathons but I won’t be competitive anymore,” Kurtis said. “I’m just going to run for health. I want to do some other things.”
Kurtis ran his first hometown marathon in 1979, finishing 10th with a time of 2:22:23. He finished second in both 1980 and 1981, and in 1987, he began a six-year streak of first-place finishes.
While familiarity with the course might have played a role in his most recent performance—as director, he worked on the 1999 rerouting that now brings runners over the Ambassador Bridge—Kurtis told the Free Press he got a little help from an old friend he trained with in the ‘90s.
“I got really lucky today because my former training partner, Dave Chomet—we just happened to hook up, and I would not have run that fast if he hadn’t been there,” Kurtis said. “He really pulled me along.”
Next up for Kurtis: planning Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, a 10K for which he serves as race director. If his days of intense pre-marathon training are over, his regimen remains one worth following. It’s certainly served him well over the last five decades.
“The key to my success, I think is two-a-day workouts,” Kurtis told the Free Press. “Putting a the three-to-five-hour break between the halves of a daily run lets the body rest, minimizing injury risk while allowing a sharper pace for the second half of the distance.”