Runner on 8-day marathon of marathons stops in D.C.

Johnny Clemons stands still for a brief moment while passing through Washington. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)
The team of 26 runners is broken up into five flights. Each runs 30 miles at a time. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)
Johnny Clemons, right, talks with fellow runners with the Run Now Relay. Their collective journey is more than 1,000 miles from Southeast Tennessee to Boston. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenebck)
Johnny Clemons stands still for a brief moment while passing through Washington. (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)

WASHINGTON — They call him “Johnny Marathon.” It’s just one of those nicknames that really fits.

Bostonians and out-of-towners, runners and the flat-footed have all taken part in tributes ahead of this year’s Boston Marathon.

But Johnny Clemons’ effort is unique and more physically demanding than many ultra-runners would even attempt.

He is running a marathon distance — 26.2 miles — every day for eight days. Then, he’ll run the Boston Marathon.

“I’m holding up really well,” Clemons said as he passed through Washington, his halfway point. “I’m getting stronger as I go.”

Clemons is part of the Run Now Relay team making its way from Southeast Tennessee to Boston. The group of 26 is taking shifts to complete the 1,000-mile run in support of the victims of last year’s bombings.

“We’re everyday people from all walks of life, from folks in their early 30s to up in their 60s,” says Tim Spires.

Many have run marathons in the past, and they describe fellow runners as “family,” which explains the grueling effort to honor those killed and injured at the Boston Marathon finish line.

The team is broken up into five flights, with each one running 30 miles at a time. The run is continuous.

Even among those elite runners, Clemons’ pace stands out. Having run the Boston Marathon before, the bombings last year really resonated with him.

“My wife and my kids have been on the finish line, waiting for me to come in,” he says. “So I sympathize with people who had losses.”

By the time he completes the Boston Marathon, Clemons will have run 235 miles in 10 days. It’s the most he’s run since dropping weight for wrestling in high school, he figures.

So far, he’s been able to finish the runs in less than three hours.

“Yesterday, I went to the grocery store and bought four bags of groceries and then I ate a huge dinner,” he says.

He believes he ate more than 10,000 calories in a single day to supply the demanding run.

As for the actual Boston Marathon, Clemons isn’t worried about his time, knowing he’ll be exhausted. He plans to enjoy the crowd and stop in at some aid stations.

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