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Done 4 marathons in 4 months!
May 10, 2013 by Michael Wolff

A TEAM is a group of individuals that work together to accomplish feats greater than could ever be accomplished by the sums of the individuals.

Last Sunday I completed my 4th marathon in 4 months (completed from start to finish in a span of 93 days) to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through their wonderful endurance training and fundraising platform Team in Training. I have been involved with Team in Training since 2010 as both a coach and participant. This Spring’s challenge of the 4 marathons in a short span was my way of giving just a little back and paying a little toward the future too. Lifetime now with the help of my friends and family we have raised approximately $7,300 towards funding cancer research, helping families in need and to support advocacy for change. The $1,500 that we raised this season was part of approximately $300,000 raised by just over 200 participants who completed their spring efforts at the Flying Pig Marathon last weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank-you everyone for helping me make a difference.

Quite honestly my quest to run 4 marathons in 4 months only miraculously did not fall this last marathon short. If I had not the weight of all my supporters behind me it would have been very easy to call it a day. Our son had been sick earlier in the week. Near home that was coupled by unusually high pollen counts, a side effect of our heavy rain late spring bloom. Being Junior’s human Kleenex and this being my year to be affected with spring allergies I had come down with a bad case of bronchitis that was getting worse by the minute. On the drive down I had emptied out nearly a box of tissue before the hour drive south out of Michigan was complete. By race morning breathing was a chore.

If this had just been only for me than I likely would have ended it there but because of all of the supporters, honored hero survivors and also honored heroes I was running on behalf of I knew that I would have to give it a go. I was running good until mile two and decided to give it a shot at letting loose but when I tried to take a deep breath in it felt like “ALL!!” of my insides rejected that thought. Have you ever tried to run with bronchitis? Think gag reflex because that is your body’s response to such activities; coughing, hacking, expelling and choking. I continued on, taking only short breaths. This allowed me to continue running even if it wasn’t at the pace I wished.

Around mile 10 I made a joke to a fellow runner and when I tried to laugh whole heartedly like I sometimes do I was reminded of my condition and almost ended up holding my lungs in my hands. It was about this time that my hamstring began to hurt pretty severely. It had been tight earlier in the week and with the early morning start and activities I had little time to warm it up. By mile 12 it was all I could do to lift my left leg and shortly after those that know me really well would tell you that they could know for certain that it was serious because I had stopped at a medical tent for help.

Funny this medical tent, none of the volunteers that were available were confidant in wrapping up my hamstring so I ended up doing it myself. Of course by the time I got up it was more sore and I needed to jump start myself with about a dozen hops before I could get going again. By between mile 14 and 15 whatever inflamed areas of the muscle tissue there were finally tore. I was now on one leg entirely. I was now entirely hopping forward on my right leg using the left only as a support. If you have ever seen pictures of a one legged person or of Terry Fox running I was an exact duplicate in form. I still had 12 plus miles to go and only one good leg with which to get there. “How,” I thought would I do this?

A funny thing though I never doubted that I would finish. It was only HOW would I get this done that crossed my mind. What would I need to do to finish what I started? It was never I can’t do this or never this is too much. Somewhere deep inside I had turned on a switch; the never give up or give in switch. I pressed forward one hop, one limp, one bracing step at a time.

Another funny thing began to happen. As I lagged further and further behind my pace group and as droves passed, people began to cheer for me (not a nonchalant ubiquitous sort of way people cheer on others but for me specifically); random strangers, other runners, police officers that were there for crowd control. Nearly every person on the course had words of encouragement for ME, for hanging in there and overcoming and not quitting. There were pats on the back, and cheers and offers of support and help. As I struggled up hills nearly dragging my left leg I had to avoid eye contact at times so that I didn’t meet the gaze of wet eyes and start crying myself. I became more determined than ever. I had to finish not necessarily for myself but also for all of these people now too.

Around mile 18 my bandage had loosened up and things were becoming extraordinarily difficult. I had to stop again to get my hamstring rewrapped, this time professionally. When I stood up to get going again I nearly fell down. There was now no response at all from my left leg when I tried to make a running motion and on the fly I had to quickly retrain my body to hop-step forward. I edged on and began to pass timing clocks that normally would be showing my finishing time. Undaunted I pressed. Occasionally I was passing the odd person now. It was my turn to cheer people on. I patted them on the back and encouraged them to egg on. Most did. Thanking me as they continued their journey. As the miles climbed into the 20’s I grew thankful and began to count them down.

Around mile 22 I spotted a struggling fellow Team in Training teammate just ahead of me. He was running with a coach and I could tell they were having a difficult way of things. I endeavored to stay steady so that I could maybe catch up to them to help them finish. Over the next two miles I never wavered from this. Concentrating not to slip on the painted and now slick rain soaked road lines. I kept steady, focused and forward hopping one legged the whole time and near mile 24 I had pulled alongside my peer.

I gave him a pat on his shoulder and encouraged him not to give in, to keep up with me, after all I was only using one leg. Buoyed by this he pulled in alongside me and off towards the finish we went, he hobbling me walking. My new friend (an Air Force Sergeant from Dayton) and I kept this up for the final couple of miles. When one of us began to lag the other helped encourage him on and vice versa. If you’ve never run the last couple of miles of a marathon you really should read Stephen King’s (writing as Richard Bachman) The Long Walk. It really is a battle of horror and attrition, pain and suffering. As your body runs out of real energy I can only think that it is the mind’s will overcoming the powers of reason that allows one to finish. All this time I had still been battling the bronchitis. The hopping I found I could do. Even though my one “good” leg was now becoming exhausted from doing all of the work for the last dozen miles not being able to breathe properly and absorb oxygen was completely zapping. It was wearing me down. Those last couple of miles at times were pretty “special”. All of a sudden with the finish line near we were joined by another friend who had come down from Michigan to help coach the Team in Training athletes.

Buoyed by stubborn pride I began to push hard and hard we pushed. At times I pressed so hard my eyes were closed. Other times I grunted away the shots of pain that coursed through my legs. I fought back the urge to reject the phlegmy mucous that was filling up in my chest and I gave it my all. I stumbled, nearly fell and fought all the way through the finish line and just like that in as surreal a moment as you can imagine it was all over. There was a man hug for my Sergeant friend and I sought out a few others who had finished around us for congratulation pats and shakes. I respectfully declined multiple efforts to put me in a wheel chair and pressed through the throng of the finishing area. Save those for the ones that really need it, I thought. I’m fine. Today I am a champion.

My eyes were clenched, closed with focus when I crossed the finish line so at the time I had no idea my finishing time. That was not important what was important was that I had overcome and finished. That I had never once waivered in resolve and that I never once gave in to what are forces of despair. Of course now as I look back my finishing time of 4:45:56 was the slowest of what are now 13 completed marathons and really not what I would expect from myself. My second half time of 2:54:03 was only 20 minutes less than my personal best time for a whole marathon of 3:14:33. At mile 6.8 despite fighting the bronchitis I sat 604 out of more than 4,135 runners that would finish. By mile 13 in spite of the bronchitis and an already hampered leg I was still in 904th place and by the time I finished my ever deadening pace left me in 2344th. In spite of everything I still out paced nearly 1800 others.

Writing this now four days later my left hamstring still won’t support my attempts to make running steps. Believe me when I say I’ve tried, the results of which have left me unsupported. My chest hurts and my lungs and sinuses fill up as fast as I can drain them the whole sick mess worsened by the exertion of the marathon. The switch has now been turned off and looking back upon the race I find it hard to believe what I accomplished.

The average finish time was 4:31:52. In spite of everything I went through including hopping at least 12 plus miles on one leg I finished only 14 minutes behind the average finisher. It astounds me what the human spirit can will the human body to accomplish when faith and courage never waiver. Somehow unable to breathe deeply and hopping on one leg in the rain I ran the 1382nd fastest last mile, faster than 2750 others on this day. My friend from mile 24 said that even in all his years in the military he had never seen anything like it. It is all and only for one reason because I never gave up or gave in. That is the strength of courage that being a part of a team gives you.

My team starts with my wife and son who are always there for me and I must thank them first. I also wish to thank all of those who supported my 4 marathon in 4 months effort financially with donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, with their advocacy and with both their vocal and quiet support. My team also includes all of the honored heroes that allowed me the privilege of running on their behalf and those too that have touched me so that I would run in their memory.

Honored Heroes

◾ Richard Johnston

◾ Pat Watson

◾ David Tanner

◾ Alicia Buisst

◾ Bradley Bowers

◾ Kim Miller

◾ Sydney Balzer

◾ Cathy Skotzke

◾ Tracey Gerus

◾ Michael Larson

◾ Philip Brabbs

In memory of;

◾ Antonio Rego

◾ Neil Fielden

◾ Mary Tonkovich-Antonelli

◾ Tony Ilkanic

This 2013 4 marathon in 4 month journey has been very special. It has spanned from February to April over a time of 93 days and has been a bridge for the third and fourth decades of my life (yes I turned 40 over the streak). It has included two wicked bouts of bronchitis, a two and a half inch spike of wood that needed to be removed from my foot with a Vise-grip and a race completed on a torn hamstring. I have crossed thousands of miles, the Atlantic ocean, run in three US states, two different countries and on two different continents. I have driven across state and states, over and through mountains, in a blizzard and on sunny days. I have run on trails, through forests, over rivers, in a blizzard of snow and wind up, mostly up but sometimes down, many, many hills , on well travelled roads and a few paths less taken. When it is all said and done I can say that I did THIS and no one will ever be able to take that away from me.

Never forget that humanity is a family. That there are greater things in this world to discover together than we might discover on our own and never ever give up or give in.

Peace and love all.


Update #3 Marato de Barcelona
Apr 07, 2013 by Michael Wolff

I need to go where? Barcelona subway map

Awesome start finish area the day before the Marato de Barcelona

Barcelona message board. That's mine. It says," Ti amo, peace sign, Happy Face!"

Cleaned up and feeling good after the Marato de Barcelona

It was a day out from the Marato de Barcelona and we had just arrived into Barcelona via train from Zaragoza, Spain approximately 300 km away. My weekend support crew (my bride Sandra and our son Zacharie) were safe and relaxing in our hotel and I headed out to face my first challenge of the weekend. Gringo Mike needed to figure out how to buy tickets for, read the map of and navigate the city’s subway system.

That all seemed so long ago now as if it were a dream of adventure. The fact that I am back home in North America writing of my adventure may be a little hint as to how things worked out.

On a rainy March 17th 2013 I finished the Marato de Barcelona covering the 26.2 mile distance n 3:43:53. It was my third marathon finish in 10 weeks, my first European marathon finish and also my first foreign (to me) language finish! It was my 13th marathon or greater distance finish since I turned 35 and my second since turning 40 in February. My final placing was a more than respectable 2694 out of 5536 men aged 35-44 and 5946 out of 14777 overall finishers and of course ahead of the millions still on the couch. It wasn’t quite as fast as I had hoped for but considering the totality of my adventure I have much to be thankful for.

My journey which started in February with a drive across Michigan from the metro Detroit area to a snow covered Grand Rapids Michigan to run the Ground Hog Day Marathon in blizzard like conditions was now ¾ complete. As the crow flies I was approximately 6890 km away from the finish of that first race in Grand Rapids. I had run in snow, rain, pelting sleet, humidity, strong breezes and cool winds. I had driven across vast mountain ranges, through white out blizzard like conditions, rain, sun rises and sun sets. I’ve since experienced day light savings time on two continents, Ground Hog’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, the first rights of spring and my 40th birthday. There has been air travel over oceans and borders and train rides of great speeds. I have had to navigate strange lands and multiple languages, maintain a training diet and schedule in balance with all of the travel and hotels that have been homes along the way. I stand before you now with 3 of my goal 4 marathons in 4 months behind me. My mini journey is near complete. I look back at all of this accomplished in a 10 week time frame and I wonder, “What more can I do?”

For all of the navigation my adventure has taken, all of the determination, discipline and diligence there is still more work to do. Each marathon I complete represents an enormous exertion of effort and perseverance but it is nothing compared to what millions of our brothers and sisters of humanity face every day. I am running to help those suffering from blood cancers but there are so many more afflictions of the modern world that challenge our friends every day. What of those with HIV and AIDS or Malaria or Dengue Fever? What of those who wake in the morning to face a rifle’s barrel or those without enough food or clean water to live another day? As we grow from a species 7 billion strong towards 9 billion over the coming decades and we continue to struggle to provide the necessities of life and the fight for resources continues it will be ever more important to continue to improve the human condition.

It would be easy to do nothing but the reality is that it isn’t that hard to do something either. I am running in support of that better world. Please help me in my mission to help find a cure for blood cancers. Every ounce of goodwill is appreciated. Each life saved is one more precious soul that can help us build a brighter future. Each family kept together is one more to share humanity’s vibrancy with. Help yourself by helping me build a brighter future.

Together we can do anything we set our minds to. Never give up or give in.

Best, peace and go team.


Update #2 Umstead
Apr 07, 2013 by Michael Wolff

HAPPY to be done with finishers pint glass after the running of the 10th annual Umstead Trail Marathon

Please note this update was written three weekends ago. Unfortunately I had access issues to this website while in Europe and couldn’t post it sooner. Please check back in a couple of days for further updates from my success in completing the Zurich Marato de Barcelona. More detailed race reports will soon be available on my personal weblog at Thank you as always for your continued support. Peace, Mike

Hey gang. I’m writing this from my hotel room in Zaragoza, Spain. In one day I will be hopping on the train to head to Barcelona, Spain to attempt to complete the third marathon in what will hopefully end up being 4 Marathons in 4 Months to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

My wife asked me the other night if I was nervous about my upcoming race?

Simply I replied, “No.”

I am in a foreign place and I have no idea of where I am or going and speak little of the native tongue. I am nervous about getting my race package picked up and to the start line. If I can get those two things accomplished THEN! I can be nervous about the race!

Not two weeks ago now I celebrated my 40th birthday two days after it by finishing the second leg of my journey to complete 4 marathons in 4 months by completing the extremely challenging Umstead Trail Marathon in the William B. Umstead State Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. This by far was the toughest of the 11 marathons that I have completed. Not only was I still not recovered from the Ground Hog Day Marathon in the snow and icy cold conditions of Grand Rapids, Michigan a month earlier but this was also by far the most challenging course that I’ve faced. This was a not for wimps event!

I ended up in 109th out of 179 finishers in a time of 4:31:37 but that is only a smidgen of the story. Out of a field of 225 entries only 179 were able to finish in the 6 hour time limit. That means there were 46 “Did Not Finishes” or just over 20% of the field (1 in 5) couldn’t complete the course. If you were wondering, that number is extremely high as in, “I’ve never been involved in a marathon close to that difficult.” My time was over 1 hour and 15 minutes slower than my personal best and was only my second finish out of 11 where I’ve exceeded 4 hours. During parts of this race I couldn’t help but laugh at how much I was getting my butt whipped!

Still in spite of all that I had a blast…maybe because of all of that. You’ll never know what you’re made of until you do something really hard and see how you come through. Often times the most challenging things in life will turn out to be the most rewarding things of your life.

I feel thankful to have completed the second marathon in my quest to complete 4 in 4 months. All told I had a blast.

Thank you to all of my supporters for helping me throughout this journey.

Together we can do anything.

Help me make a difference. Become part of my team and let’s help fund a brighter tomorrow for our families, for families everywhere and especially for the families in need of HOPE TODAY.

Donate, cheer, be an advocate, help whichever way you can, every positive initiative helps.

You will soon be able to read more about my adventures at the Umstead Trail Marathon at Dad’s Point of

Please view older posts and my original statement on 4 marathons in 4 months for the LLS below.

Keep checking back here for updates tracking the progress of my journey or follow me on my personal blog @ or on Twitter @

I look forward to our continued adventures together.

Best, Peace and Go Team!


Michael Wolff

Update #1
Feb 26, 2013 by Michael Wolff

Finish line photo from the Ground Hog Day Marathon in Grand Rapids, Michigan February 2nd 2013

This hurt but it won't stop me from running the Umstead Trail Marathon on March 2nd, 2013

It seems as though my new pre-marathon lucky charm is having “a week before injury or illness” that might have been worse if it wasn’t for a little fortune. Last September before I completed the 100 km (62 m) Long Slow Distance at run Woodstock I had a soft tissue injury to my upper right abdominals that was so painful I thought my gallbladder was blocked. It healed enough that I was able to complete that challenge. At the beginning of February just before the Ground Hog Day Marathon in Grand Rapids I fell ill with a bad dose of bronchitis. I tried running just after I healed and couldn’t go a block without my gag reflex kicking in. A few days later it too had healed enough for me to complete my mission. The other night while running to give my son a hug I fell to the floor with a 2 1/8” inch sliver of hardwood in my foot (yes I measured it). It was so big we needed a pair of Vise-Grips to pull it out! It was buried 1 6/8” in. I can tell because that is where the blood line goes to on the sliver. Lucky enough we got it out and the infection seems localized. Today I managed a 6 mile run. Sometimes in life good luck is the bad luck that you don’t get. In all of these instances if injury or illness was just a bit worse I might not have been able to complete my intended journey. I may not have all the material wealth in the World but I am most fortunate to have as much wealth as I could ever want with my beautiful family and plenty of FlOW and Joie de Vivre. Yes, lady luck has shined her light on me brightly and I feel fortunate for every chance and opportunity I receive.

Giving back just a little is the least that I can do to pay Miss. Luck back for the rewards she has bestowed upon me like my strength of will, good health (touch wood) and for that of my family’s and for whatever fortune of circumstances we may receive.

The first run of my 4 marathons in 4 months adventure to help raise funds in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is in the books. It wasn’t easy running 26.2 miles through the snow and cold of Grand Rapids , Michigan in the middle of winter but I did it. That will be something no one can ever take away from me. Now as I stand within days of turning 40 I also stand on the cusp of getting to halfway in completing my 4 marathons in 4 months journey. With these two marathons coming exactly 4 weeks apart I am realizing that this will be tougher than maybe I first expected. With no time to recover after the first before I needed to get my legs churning to train for the next and not enough time to recover from a long run in preparation for the second this is definitely a learning experience for me. I am entering somewhat different territory. If I am successful at this weekend’s Umstead Trail Marathon in North Carolina I will then only have a two week and two day turnover until my next race in Barcelona, Spain. I had better not catch myself looking ahead. The time is now to focus on the challenge at hand.

Help me make a difference. Become part of my team and let’s help fund a brighter tomorrow for our families, for families everywhere and especially for the families in need of HOPE TODAY.

Donate, cheer, be an advocate, help whichever way you can, every positive initiative helps.

You can read about my adventures from the first race in my journey, the inaugural Ground Hog Day Marathon in Grand Rapids, Michigan here; part 1 and part 2.

Please view older posts and my original statement on 4 marathons in 4 months for the LLS below.

Keep checking back here for updates tracking the progress of my journey or follow me on my personal blog @ or on Twitter @

I look forward to our continued adventures together.

Best, Peace and Go Team!


Michael Wolff

I’m running 4 marathons in 4 months to help find a cure for blood cancers
Jan 28, 2013 by Michael Wolff

I’m running 4 marathons in 4 months to help find a cure for blood cancers.

I keep thinking that cancer will go away. A human has walked on the moon, we’ve made robots that have been examining rocks on Mars for nearly ten years now and have even sent a space craft out of our solar system yet we still haven’t won the battle against cancer. Every time I turn around a friend, a family member or a peer seems newly diagnosed. My hope is that within our life time one more moon shot will take place; the end of cancer.

This spring I will be attempting to complete 4 marathons in 4 months to help make that possibility a reality. They will include The Groundhog’s Day Marathon in Grand Rapids, Michigan on February 2nd 2013 (yes February 2nd in Michigan!!), I’ll be celebrating my 40th birthday a few days after it by running the Umstead Trail Marathon on March 2nd, 2013 at the William B. Umstead state Park just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, the Marato de Barcelona, Espana (si that is the Barcelona Marathon in Spain) only a few weeks later on March 17th, 2013 and my efforts will culminate with my benefit race on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society May 5th, 2013 when I go Piggly Wiggly in Cincinnati for the 15th Flying Pig Marathon.

By taking on these challenges I hope to prove that there is nothing to be afraid of. We can take on tough challenges and succeed. We can change the world one feat (or even one foot strike!) at a time. We can influence the future. We can make a difference. We can still push the boundaries of possibility. We can run marathons. We can climb mountains. We can find a cure for cancer.

  • Nearly one million people in America are estimated to either be living with or are in remission from a blood cancer
  • Every 4 minutes someone new will be diagnosed with a blood cancer
  • Every 10 minutes someone dies from a blood cancer
  • Leukemia is the number one cancer killer of childen under the age of 20
  • 40 years ago survival rates for children with Leukemia were merely 3% today they are approaching 90%
  • Hodgkin’s Lymphoma survival rates have nearly doubled to 88% since the 1960’s
  • Nearly half of all cancer fighting drugs approved by the FDA over the past decade have been for blood related cancers

We are making a difference. We are succeeding. A cure is out there we just need to go find it.

Help me make a difference. Become part of my team and let’s help fund a brighter tomorrow for our families, for families everywhere and especially for the families in need of HOPE TODAY.

Donate, cheer, be an advocate, help whichever way you can, every positive initiative helps.

Keep checking back here for updates tracking the progress of my journey or follow me on my personal blog @ or on Twitter @

I look forward to this adventure together.

Best, Peace and Go Team!


Michael Wolff


Supporter Comments

    "Here's to the 1st of 4 - you are my hero! I will be thinking about you tomorrow!"

    kerreen conley

    Fri Feb 01 07:45:35 EST 2013

    "Michael, you and the team are inspirational. My students who are learning about heroes want to "thank you for running so that cancer can go away" and think you are "very brave to be running four marathons in four countries". Thank you for representing the strength of my friend Nina who is currently conquering Lymphoma. You are loved!"

    Christie Rego

    Tue Feb 05 08:03:52 EST 2013

    "This is great Michael. Looking forward to seeing you in NC."

    Leah & Erik Herreid

    Mon Feb 25 08:58:26 EST 2013

    "Good luck on the second of your 4. 52.4 miles and counting. So proud if you coach. "

    Kerreen Conley

    Fri Mar 01 08:37:28 EST 2013

    "GO Coach Mike! You are my inspiration! "

    Alicia Buisst

    Thu Mar 21 11:25:16 EDT 2013

    ""Teamwork: The fuel that produces uncommon results in common people.�- Tex Winter. You have been a great fuel for me in my events and wish you all the best in yours!"


    Mon Apr 08 11:13:47 EDT 2013

    "Mike: you are truly an inspiration; I am honored to coach along your side and enjoy your energy!! Run on! "

    Teri Schuller

    Thu Apr 11 10:31:10 EDT 2013

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $1,533.00 | Goal: $1,500.00
102 %

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My Thanks To

Mark Fielden $182.00
Uncle Marty and friends $181.00
Leah & Erik Herreid $100.00
March Madness Fun $62.60
Kerreen Conley $52.40
Teri Schuller $50.00
Harold Wolff $50.00
Tony |Stark $50.00
Dave DelDuca $50.00
Race for a Cure $48.00
Ivonne Forsthoefel $25.00
Trish Breslin $25.00
kerreen conley $25.00
Andrew Pearson $20.00
Alicia Buisst $20.00
Michael Barry $20.00
Frank Schilte $18.50
Penny Jar $18.50
George Cline $10.00
Christie Rego  
Bill Stabler