Coach runs 50 marathons in 50 states

June 20, 2008 8:00:26 AM PDT
Brendon Cournane answers to coach, but for many he's much more than just an athlete. He's an inspiration. Cournane, 53, is a marathon runner who trains other endurance athletes. Two weeks ago he reached a personal goal- competing in the Sunburst Marathon in South Bend.

The competition was the culmination of a 12-year plan to run a marathon in 50 states. On May 31, he did that. Neighboring Indiana became the 50th.

"When I got to the finish line it was a wealth of experience...both happy and sad. Sad that the quest had ended but relieved that I had made it safely through all 50 states," said Cournane.

Cournane, an attorney with the Board of Education, started coaching runners in 1997. Over the years, he has helped more than 5,000 Chicagoans become endurance athletes.

His method- walk for a few minutes and then run for a time. As many as 500 people turn out for the sessions.

"Brendan and his run walk are what kept me going thru the marathon last year and through training all summer," said Curt Kessler, runner.

"I think he's amazing...not only is he a good runner but he's an excellent coach. He inspires but he also has a lot knowledge about running," said Holly Jamison, runner.

"He always gives us encouragement that no matter how young or old or whatever your capability...as long as you finish it with a great smile on your face," said Elsa Chua, runner.

So, what's next?

"I think seven continents," said Cournane. "I want to complete a marathon in every continent."


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