100 marathons and counting

Published 10:01 pm Monday, March 14, 2016

North Suffolk resident Lisa Davis celebrates after crossing the finish line at the Newport News One City Marathon on Sunday. It marked her 100th marathon since her first in 2002.

North Suffolk resident Lisa Davis celebrates after crossing the finish line at the Newport News One City Marathon on Sunday. It marked her 100th marathon since her first in 2002.

North Suffolk resident Lisa Davis’ mantra is to “Run Happy,” and that’s exactly what she does throughout each and every race.

She’s especially happy now that she has met a personal goal. On Sunday in Newport News, the 47-year-old completed her 100th marathon or ultra-marathon at the One City Marathon.

“You have to run happy,” Davis said. “You have to have a desire to run. You have to feel like, ‘No matter what, I’m going to be happy.’”


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Davis was in the Marine Corps and had a toddler in 2002 when she ran her first marathon.

“I had no formal training,” she said. “I just ran every day and got my endurance up.”

Her first marathon was the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. She decided to make the 2016 One City Marathon her 100th race after running in the inaugural event last year and loving it.

“I stopped at every water stop. I danced at mile 9 with the band. I spoke to every police officer and volunteer to thank them,” Davis said. “I enjoyed it.”

As she crossed the start line on Sunday, sporting a green running skirt and carrying a “Celebrate 100” balloon, she thought, “This is 26.2 miles to my 100th marathon.”

When Davis crossed the finish line — four hours, 51 minutes and 12 seconds after she crossed the starting line — she was still happy.

“Even though I was hot and tired, I was still running happy,” she sad. “I don’t care about time.”

She’ll compete in the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach this weekend to make her 101st. Then, she’ll take a day off and then run five races in five days in five states.

“I’m tenacious,” she said. “I stick with it.”

Now that Davis has retired from the Marine Corps as a major and her daughter is now 16, it’s easier for her to run as much as she likes. She ran 48 marathons last year.

She now has only five states to go to run a marathon in all 50 states — and she plans to knock out New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas very soon.

“By the end of this month, I’ll have everything but Arkansas and Hawaii,” she said.

She’ll run an Arkansas race later this spring and take care of Hawaii in September, which is the first time she’ll actually stick around and enjoy the sights after the race.

“My husband decided he wanted to make it a ‘runcation,’” she said. “Hawaii will be the one that I don’t just jump in and out. Usually I vacation separately from running.”

Davis said she didn’t really set out to do 100 marathons, but the goal of doing one in every state helped her get there.

“It just so happened I kind of snuck up on 100,” she said.

Her next goal is to run a marathon on all seven continents, which she hopes to accomplish next year with the Triple 7 Quest, an attempt to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days (at least, that’s the hope, if the weather in Antarctica cooperates).

Airais McCoy, the North Suffolk ambassador for Black Girls Run, of which Davis is a member, said Davis is inspirational to others.

“She’s very encouraging to people who are starting the journey,” McCoy said. “Even though she runs long distances and runs a pretty decent speed, she always makes herself available to others to run at their pace and their distance,” she said.

McCoy recalled running alongside Davis in a Washington, D.C., marathon that featured difficult weather conditions.

“That was a very tough one,” McCoy said. “There was a torrential downpour the entire 26.2 miles. She still managed to finish it smiling.”

Davis said her favorite running story is from the Backyard Burn Race Series, a series of trail-running events in Northern Virginia.

“It took everything in my body to get up and down some of those hills, because I’m clawing my way up and down and it’s so muddy,” she said.

She finished dead last in every single race but was shocked to find that she had placed fourth in the entire series for her age group, because points are awarded cumulatively and other runners hadn’t done every race.

“You could be on top of the world and don’t even know it,” she said. “You’ve got to keep pushing, because you see your circumstances, but you have no idea where you are in the universe.”