Baltimore's marathon a milestone for potential 50-state club member

The Baltimore Sun

When Chris Calimano crosses the finish line of the Baltimore Marathon on Saturday, he will have completed a journey much longer than 26.2 miles.

The 32-year-old New York native will have run a marathon in 50 different states, a milestone that few runners achieve in a lifetime. The 50 States Marathon Club, which keeps track of those who accomplish the feat, lists less than 1,000 reported finishers since 2001.

"I'm just having fun. Setting little goals and challenges," said Calimano, who ran his first marathon in 2010. "After this, out of the 50 states, I have 35 that are under four hours. I want to backtrack and make them all under four hours."

There was the time he went ice climbing in Anchorage, Alaska, and then ran the Mayor's Marathon in 3 hours and 57 minutes the next day. In Maui, Calimano biked up the Haleakala Mountain, which is 10,023 feet high, the day before completing the Maui Oceanfront Marathon.

During that Maui trip, he also found time to propose to his now-fiancee, Colleen Harp, who he started dating only a few months before his first race three years ago, the New Jersey Marathon.

"I told her that we would just go for some photos before dinner," he said, "and then I dropped a knee behind her."

Calimano works as an information technology manager at the Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton law firm Manhattan but manages to run anywhere from one to three races most weeks. A typical weekend includes a flight out of town Friday, marathons Saturday and Sunday and an early flight to get back to work on time Monday. For training, he swims and also runs twice a week, often pulling a tire behind him.

"I've got all the jokes lined up, 'It's a real drag,'" Calimano said. "'It's pretty tiring.' It gets old really fast."

Harp said she believes Calimano knows his limits, but sometimes worries that he might become overburdened by the constant training.

"I always wonder when that point is going to come," she said.

In the meantime, Harp tries to travel with him when it works with her own schedule. The proposal came as a surprise, she said.

"I was so sure he wasn't going to because he is terrible at keeping secrets," Harp said. "He is like a 5-year-old when it comes to telling secrets, he just gets so excited and wants to tell you."

David Huock, who was on the Wagner College wrestling team with Calimano, said his old teammate's enthusiasm is infectious and encouraged him to pick up running again a few years ago. He signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct. 27, thinking that Calimano would be joining him — but Calimano missed the deadline. Huock said he is inspired by Calimano, but not just for his fitness.

"Definitely a role model," Huock said. "He might be the only guy I know who calls everybody on their birthday. He knows everybody's birthdays."

Calimano's father, Chris Sr., used to take him out to Little League practices. Now his son is roping him into workouts, like the 30-mile Twin Lights bike ride in New Jersey, which they did together Sept. 29. The next day, Calimano took another bike trip — for 120 miles.

His mother, Celia, said she was amazed his feet never seemed to get sore.

"He's like the energizer bunny," she said. "It doesn't bother him. He likes it. He never complains."

Calimano planned to run his 50th state in Baltimore so that some family members, who are from Staten Island, could make the drive. His parents and sister will be waiting and they plan to celebrate by eating crabs and attending the the Ravens game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

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