Edwards runner aims for marathon milestone | VailDaily.com

Edwards runner aims for marathon milestone

Melanie Wong
Edwards, CO Colorado
Photo courtesy of Brian DunfeyBrain Dunfey, of of Edwards, Colorado, runs in the 2007 Steamboat Springs Marathon.

EDWARDS, Colorado ” By some accounts, Brian Dunfey of Edwards, Colorado, is 12 years old.

Or that’s what his high-tech scale tells him, anyway, said the 49-year-old marathon runner.

The scale, which measures everything from body fat percentage to bone mass, says that Dunfey’s metabolic age, or the average age associated with his level of metabolism, is 12.

It really sums up Dunfey’s attitude toward his age ” namely, that it doesn’t matter. And to emphasize the point, Dunfey, a Beaver Creek ski and snowboard instructor and Edwards resident, will run his 50th marathon in Philadelphia this Sunday before his 50th birthday.

“This morning the scale said I was 13. The other day it was 12,” he said. “So there.”

Dunfey was inspired to do “50 by 50” by his brother.

“He brought it up, and I started thinking, ‘How many would I have to do a year to do that?'” Dunfey said.

He started marathon running 8 years ago, and qualified for the Boston Marathon his second year, he said. He got to the point that he was running five to 10 marathons a year, sometimes only two weeks apart.

For him, running 50 marathons at a competitive pace isn’t so much about accomplishing a crazy feat as it is about simply having training goals.

He’s got quite a few ” doing well at the Boston each year, besting his top time of 2. hours 58 minutes and 18 seconds, and finishing every race.

Dunfey began running after he moved to the Vail valley and was looking for a way to get back in shape. He mountain biked, but didn’t like the idea of having to drive to a trailhead. He figured he could run from his front door, so he started running.

“I hated it,” he said, laughing. “At the end of the week, I could finally complete four miles. Then I thought, ‘If I really want to do this, I need to have a goal.’ So I did my first marathon.”

He pulls out a sagging bag carrying all his marathon medals ” holding it up looks like a workout for someone with a twig-like runner’s build, but Dunfey browses through them, pointing out some of his favorites.

He remembered this year’s New York City Marathon when he tore his hamstring on mile eight. He continued running, stopping about five times in pain, he said.

“By the last miles, I was so far back,” he remembered. “But by then you’re passing hundreds of people. The crowd is so loud when you first hit Manhattan. I never felt like I had run that fast before.”

So why do it? Dunfey admits he’s a bit obsessed with the sport. He wakes up at 4 a.m. in the winter to run, and he logs 45 miles to 75 miles weekly.

But it’s clear he loves it, and he could chatter on about running and races for hours.

“I continue to do it because it’s all in your head. You’re racing against yourself, and rarely in life unless you push yourself to the limits do you get to see that side of yourself,” he said. “I often get the reaction, ‘You’re crazy,’ which I confirm.”

Fellow marathon runner Greg Decent, of Vail, described Dunfey as a friendly, outgoing person who is incredibly passionate about his sport.

“He’s always willing to go for a run, no matter if it’s during the day, at night,” he said. “Also, for Brian to do (a marathon) after two weeks shows he’s in amazing physical shape. I’ll do between one and two marathons a year. Afterwards I’m a mess for about a month.”

Dunfey’s attitude is one that friends and other runners say is inspiring.

“When he first told me he was running 50 before 50, I thought, I’m 28, and I’ve only run 6 marathons,” said Vail resident Rachel Viele, who often joins Dunfey on his long distance runs. “It’s just a crazy goal ” setting some goal that seems unreachable and going after it.”

Avon runner Alison McDonnald said that Dunfey’s goals have inspired her to think about how many she could run.

“It makes me want to set my goals even higher,” she said. “Maybe I’ll even do it before 50.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

Support Local Journalism