On Super Bowl Sunday, the real MVP athlete at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., might not be a huge guy in shoulder pads and a helmet. If all goes as planned, Maine runner Gary Allen will arrive at Super Bowl XLVIII having logged 500 miles in 10 days, all in the name of charity.
Allen’s 500-mile trek will begin on January 24 at the summit of Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island. It’s a place he knows well: Last year, it was the starting point for the 56-year-old’s 705.2-mile charity run to the United States Capitol in Washington.
Along the way, Allen raised $16,000 for three charities: the Wounded Warrior Project, the American Cancer Society, and survivors of Connecticut’s Sandy Hook school shootings.
This time, by focusing on the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps severely injured military veterans transition back into normal life, Allen is helping a group of people whose stories he’s long found moving and inspiring. They’re the real heroes, he tells the Bangor Daily News, insisting that this charity run is “not about me and it’s not about any football game.”
“I run anyway, so if I’m able to run and it helps raise awareness for some people in uniform to whom we should be eternally grateful and maybe raises a few dollars for them in the process, it’s the least I can do,” Allen says.
Indeed, Allen does “run anyway”—and he runs often. To date, he’s officially finished 91 marathons—67 of those in less than three hours—and six ultra-marathons. His last sub-three-hour performance came at the Philadelphia Marathon in November, mere weeks after he narrowly missed the mark with a 3:00.37 performance at the New York City Marathon.
Allen doesn’t have a ticket for the Super Bowl, but given that he’s counting on supporters to provide accommodations throughout his epic run, it’s possible that someone will help out and get him into the game. If that doesn’t happen—or if he doesn’t quite reach New Jersey by kickoff time—that’s fine, too.
“My goal is to do this in 10 days, but if it takes me longer than 10 days then I’ll get the score of the game off the car radio,” he says.
To learn more about Allen’s cause and make a donation, visit www.maine2superbowlrun.com.