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To 80 and beyond
Three marathons in three days wasn’t enough for Chuck Milliman.
In 2010, the Sequim resident celebrated his 78th birthday by doing exactly that (26.2 miles per day for a 78.6-mile total).
On Nov. 14 of this year, Milliman decided to go for 80 miles on his 80th birthday.
Like last time, Milliman raised funds for the Boys & Girls Club — nearly $1,000 at last count, he said.
As for the run? Yes, he finished all 80 miles — in 23 hours, 50 minutes and 43 seconds. His journey took him in carefully pre-planned loops and routes across the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, culminating at a finish line in Dungeness.
“When I crossed the finish line it felt great,” Milliman said this week. “Four or five miles before that didn’t feel great.”
A retired minister who didn’t start “seriously” running until he was nearly 39 years old, Milliman has finished more than 55 marathons in his lifetime. He also boasts a national title in his age group (and runner-up at a world championship meet) in pole vault.
Not bad for a guy who survived a dual bypass in 2001.
“I didn’t realize I’d finish under 24 (hours),” Milliman said. “My lower shin splints were hurting. I got really cold about 2 a.m. — I was on my last 20 miles on that one.”
Milliman said it was key to have a good support crew. His son-in-law Dick Henrie ran with him the first 30 miles and grandson Jason Henrie took over after that for the duration, a 50-mile stretch. Another grandson, Douglas Milliman, ran with Chuck for miles 65-75 and son Bruce Milliman trekked the final 12 miles. All the while, son Phillip Milliman and daughter Kim Henrie ran the support car during daylight hours and the support motor home during the evening and early morning hours.
“They did an excellent job,” Chuck Milliman said.
The toughest part, he said, was following the 60-mile barrier, when he stopped for a latte and felt a pain in his right knee that might have curtailed the run. But his daughter Kimberly applied some arthritis cream that did the trick and helped him carry on. At 3:30 a.m., he had trouble eating, but Jason, his grandson, encouraged Chuck to force down some bits of bagel that helped.
“I was slow,” Milliman said, figuring he averaged 2.5 miles per hour for the final 20 miles.
The crew ran with Chuck until the final two-tenths of a mile when they backed off and let him finish solo.
Mary Budke, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, said Milliman is an inspiration at any age — particularly for the youths who use the clubs.
“I find it remarkable,” she said. “It’s amazing on several levels. (We want to teach) healthy habits and want them to see what you can look like at 80. He can inspire people to do great things.”