Marathon Junkie Recalls Time at Mount Union

February 07, 2013

ALLIANCE, Ohio—Having won at least one full-length marathon in every state, for one University of Mount Union graduate, running marathons isn’t just a hobby, but a way of life.

“Run more!” is the running motto of Chuck Engle ‘95, and it is that mantra that has brought him huge success throughout his running career.

The self-proclaimed “marathon junkie” has run 295 marathons in total, with 267 being completed in less than three hours. In 2012 alone he ran 18 marathons with 7 of them being wins and an average completion time of 2 hours and 44 minutes for the year. His personal record came in 2007 with a win in 2:31:01.

Engle graduated from Mount Union in 1995 with a double major in sports medicine and exercise science. While at Mount Union, he was a member of the cross country and track and field teams, as well as a member and president of the former Men’s Residence Council and a resident assistant in Miller Hall.

“I was drawn to Mount Union for the coaching prowess of John Homon,” said Engle. “His no-nonsense approach to coaching, running and life guided me safely through my four years at Mount Union. His words of wisdom still echo in my head while I train and run down this ‘track’ of life.”

“Running drew me to attend Mount Union,” he continued, “and it was the personal care and attention that each of my professors provided that allowed me to enjoy my experience.”

Engle started running in middle school and hasn’t stopped since, although he did get a wake up call during his sophomore year at Mount Union. Despite qualifying for the national championships and being in line to receive All-American, Engle started to slack off and “enjoy the college life a bit too much.” Feeling Engle didn’t deserve the opportunity, his coach didn’t enter him for nationals. From then on, Engle never missed a national championship for the rest of his college career, and earned the All-American award three times.

“I won’t forget Lloyd Davidson and his amazing crew who would open the cafeteria early on race weekends or stay open late just so we could have a good meal after a late practice,” said Engle. “It was consistently the little things that so many people did that made Mount Union stand far above my expectations for college life.”

Engle recalls his anatomy and physiology class as providing him with “some of the most rewarding learning opportunities” he experienced in a classroom. Although he wasn’t a music major, he remembers Dr. Phelps’ music appreciation course nearly swaying him toward a different career path and teaching him that, through learning, he could gain an appreciation for any subject matter.

“Being an athlete, I spent countless hours with (the late) Dan Gorman in the training facilities,” said Engle. “His knowledge and understanding of injuries and prevention thereof has allowed me to run more in my lifetime than I could have dreamed. His willingness to research the details and his high expectations, as well as his encouraging words from the sidelines, fostered standards that are the mark of everything I attempt to achieve.”

After graduating from Mount Union, Engle moved to Mississippi to be a graduate assistant coach. It was during this time that he started running with some friends, one of whom suggested he run a marathon.

Engle’s first marathon was the Tupelo Marathon in 2000. He broke the course record for the marathon in Clinton, Miss. with a finishing time of 2:34:33.

“Running developed into a path that has led me to a master’s degree in biology and chemistry, travel to countless countries for marathon racing, a modest amount of notoriety within the running community and connections with runners around the globe,” Engle said.

In 2006 Engle challenged himself to see how many marathons he could run in one year. Setting his sights on 50, he devoted himself to running nearly one marathon a week. Although he backed off in number in 2007, he again ran 50 marathons in 2008 and even completed two triples—a feat in which three different marathons are run in three days—in the second half of 2008.

One challenge Engle has mastered is the trial of running five marathons in five days, where he finished with an average of 2:52. His best streak consists of 58 marathons in 52 consecutive weekends, where he managed to average 2:49 a race.

Engle said he is proud he’s been able to pace runners through a sub-three-hour marathon, calling the accomplishment his biggest inspiration.

According to Engle, it has not necessarily been the specific subject matter, but instead the people that mentored him while he attended Mount Union that has helped him so much.

“With regard to my running career, if I could do anything over again, I would attend Mount Union for four more years. Not to do anything differently, but to slow it down and enjoy those four years of experiences all over,” Engle said.

A native of Lancaster, Ohio, Engle currently resides in Coos Bay, Ore. The Marathon Junkie plans to continue running in 2013 to get his fix.

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