No Words to Suffice
“I love running along a road and getting so lost in thought that, all of a sudden, I am miles away, and I don't really remember how I
got there. I love to see far. If I am away from the ocean for too long, I get anxious. I love crazy weather. I love strong coffee. I love to wake up painfully early in the morning mostly because I am excited to see what kind of adventures the new day will bring.” -- Gary Allen
I LOVE GARY. And you will too. And, yes, that statement deserves to be in all capital letters. In fact, I wish that your computer screen could sing it to you in dramatic soprano from a Spanish-style, clay rooftop covered in blooming roses and emerald green ivy because that would do the statement justice. My forever-dance-partner, Phil, affectionately calls Gary my “playa husband” because I am always jib-jabbing about him and with him and cannot wait to see him every year at Burning Man. Milk might do a body good, but Gary does wonders for the soul. Gary is the most humble rock star one will ever have the pleasure of meeting. He is the guy that will give you the shirt off his back, the shoes he is running in, and his last sip of water, all the while telling you that you are amazing and
beautiful and asking how he can help even more. His positivity is endless. “I merely hold up a mirror for everyone to see their true reflections. It sometimes requires wiping off the dust for some people to see their awesomeness clearly, but it's always there!” he modestly explains.
Now it is time for me to brag. Here is what Gary Allen will not mention about himself, and, mind you, this is just what I could find out through research. His list of accomplishments is undoubtedly much longer. Gary has run over 110,00 miles in his lifetime. Yes, that number is correct, and it is still growing. Of the 99 career marathons in which Gary has competed, he has finished 68 of them in under three hours. For example, Gary recently finished the Tacoma City Marathon in two hours, 59 minutes and 48 seconds. Simply for the sake of fun, Gary likes to start off his new year by running the Boston Marathon, a race that he has run 22 times now. Amby Burfoot, the winner of the Boston Marathon in 1968, called Gary The Master of the Marathon. Additionally, Gary has competed in seventeen New York City Marathons, with his best scores being an impressive 2:40:04 and 2:39:20. Gary Allen is the founder and race director of the highly esteemed Mount Desert Island Marathon, or M.D.I. New England Runner Magazine just named M.D.I. “Race of the Year,” and the Maine Edge said, “...[the race] made a positive difference for Mount Desert Island and the entire state of Maine.” Gary is the founder and organizer of the Maine to DC run, a trek benefiting Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the American Cancer Society; Gary ran 50 miles a day and arrived in our country’s capital just in time for the presidential inauguration. Gary is also the founder and co-director of the Great Cranberry Island Ultra Marathon, which Runner’s World Magazine named the Best Race Ever. Gary is the co-founder of Crow Athletics running club, an organization that contains
members all over the United States and abroad and hosted the U.S. National Ultra Marathon Championships in 2013. Speaking of ultra marathons, or races with a distance of 26.2 miles or longer, Gary has run nine of them. Two of these nine ultra marathons were at Burning Man. Yes, Gary ran in near-100-degree weather through early morning hours, wind, and dust, and on less-than-level, playa-fied ground. Gary has recorded sub three hour marathons, or running 26.2 miles in under three hours or a recognized elite standard, in five consecutive decades, and he is ranked near the top of the list for the longest time span between first and last sub three hour marathons. In 2014, Gary ran from Maine to the Super Bowl, a trek over 500 miles long, to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Gary’s running has been featured in Maine Magazine, Maine’s Bangor Daily News, Runner’s World, Ultra Runner Podcast, and Ellsworth American. Gary is a gifted story teller, an inspiring motivational speaker, and an enthusiastic coach. Amazingly, his family roots trace back to the first settlers on a small island off the shore of Maine. He built his own cabin and dug his own well. He dances like nobody is watching -- and if you are watching, he will run over, hug you, and dance with you until you smile so much your face hurts.
How does he do it? “I started running at age 13. It started innocently, as most loves do. I wanted to be a hockey player, but the Maine island I grew up on either didn't have enough kids who either wanted to or who could play or the pond ice was too inconsistent. I learned to run kind of by accident and quickly figured out it was the ultimate solitary sport, no teams or ice needed. I am inspired by doers.” Gary is a doer. He is a doer times a million. Toni Perryman Medeiros, another doer, an inspiring woman, a fellow burner, and a wonderful friend says, “Gary is one of the few people I know who actually participates in life and doesn't just
watch it go by. He is as passionate about life as he is running and shares his passion with those around him.” And I could not agree more!
I was curious how the most positive, motivated, and energetic individual that I know overcomes negativity or feelings of discouragement and demotivation. “I just work hard to stay in the breath I am in. I try to follow my heart and to not listen to my head. We are born with motivation, but it can get real cloudy at times; the secret is to find and fuel the fire that burns inside all of us.” Gary
goes on to say, “I like to think of life like a road with lots of intersections. You can take a right toward amazing or a left toward even
amazinger! No need to go back either; always moving forward is the only direction to go.”
What wonderful things could be in store next for this driven man that has already accomplished so much? I inquired about the future goals, both immediate and long-term, that Gary has set for himself. “I literally live in the moment, and I don't really make plans; I mostly just react to my feelings and my instincts. I see so many people planning these silly intricate lives and their best laid plans rarely work out. The most creative, fun things I dream up seem to come out of nowhere and are never really planned. I have no idea what
I'll come up with next, but my current project is trying to help a struggling Maine mill town get back on its feet. This idea, like most, came out of nowhere, and it's fun to see that it's really helping!”
Gary’s most recent venture, organizing a grassroots running event in the small town of Millinocket, Maine, which has been struggling since the closure of its large paper mill, strives to help the town and its residents recover. The paper mill, which was once the world’s largest, closed due to outsourcing, a decline in newspapers, and an all-around reduced lucrativity in the paper industry. The race intends to contribute to the revitalization of Millinocket by attracting runners to a beautiful course that is centered around the breath-taking Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine, and in doing so, the race is supporting local businesses, raising awareness, and uniting people for a common goal. Thus far, the Millinocket Marathon and Half has raised $6,835.00, and this number will undoubtedly continue to increase as race day grows nearer.
Many have been inspired by Gary’s natural and seemingly effortless stride on the path of amazingness. “Gary has taught me that there are no boundaries except those we impose on ourselves. Beyond his physicality, Gary also has a unique openness to the world he inhabits. His
passion to connect with the human spirit is limitless, whether he's attempting to rally the spirit of a small American town, or inspire a crowd of partygoers in a desert
with his infectious dance moves. Gary inspires me to dream bigger, to love grander, and to simply try more. And to get out of my own way,” says Stephanie Patzlaff.
“Gary has taught me that life is to be enjoyed. Participate and be the best you can be,” Toni Perryman Medeiros adds.
“He's given me a close up experience with an extreme, so I stand in awe of his abilities…” states Da Pete.
“Gary has reminded me that my inner child still exists, and he has taught me that I can never, ever let it be free enough! Gary is the epitome of that utopia Bill and Ted were said to have created. He is good to everyone he
meets and knows what it means to party on! Gary will touch thousands of lives,” says Phil Ko.
Patricia Kozicki poetically puts it: “Gary Allen is a marvel…as in a Marvel super hero. Gary is RUNNER!!! Gary is a human being who withstands, defies, and beats the odds. He is fit, fun, and fantastic. Gary believes in himself as much as he believes in his fellow humans. He is the eighth wonder of the world, and I appreciate his contributions to society…Gary has reminded me that living life to the fullest and being as healthy and happy as possible is crucial to maintaining a long and prosperous existence. From our playa conversations, I have learned that Gary loves his existence -- the craziness, the outlandish, the lessons, and the love. I want to exist like this! I want to wear a crazy, red wig and fly around people like some sort of obsessed creature…spreading joy, inspiration, motivation, and best of all, LOVE.”
For me, it is simply this: Gary appeared to me like a fiery apparition in all of his red-wigged gloriousness; he wandered into
camp from the hazy dust at Burning Man 2014 and politely introduced himself before swiftly going off to set up his living quarters. I loved his look and his big smile and immediately sensed an inexplicably beautiful vibe from him. Little did I know at that time, Gary was a glittering meteorite that would forever dance on my heart. I can’t tell you how many times I cried while writing this article. Gary is the spirit that comforts my soul when I am sad, lonely, and afraid that the world is a big, solitary place. He has taught me this: Feel inspired. Feel motivated. Feel accomplished. Feel positive. Feel beautiful. Feel empowered. Feel driven. Dance like nobody is watching. Realize that there isn’t anything that you cannot do. And, yes, one person CAN make a difference.
For more information on Gary Allen:
To see Burning Man through Gary’s glorious eyes:
For more information on Crow Athletics:
For more information on the Millinocket Marathon and Half:
Register here: http://www.raceit.com/search/event.aspx?id=35716
For more information on the Mount Desert Island Marathon:
For more information on the Great Cranberry Island Ultra Marathon:
For more information on the Maine2DCRun: