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Local athlete competes in top world marathons

April 6, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

A Beeton man has achieved an incredible feat of athleticism, having completed the top six marathons in the world – and he did them all with some very impressive times.

Leo Papail ran in and completed the marathons in Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Tokyo, and Berlin, and he did them all in times under three hours.

Leo said he has always been a runner and would race a school bus home on foot instead of taking the easy route of riding along with everyone else.

“I grew up in Newfoundland, right on the ocean,” Leo explained. “When I was in middle school, I would get bored and often try to race the school bus home. The school was 10 km away from my house and I would have about a 40 minute head start on the school bus. I would ditch the back-pack to my brothers or sister and run along the 10 km stretch. The principal wasn’t too thrilled and said I should run cross country and track and field to burn this energy off. During the winter months in Newfoundland, I would wait until the snowplow would come through and run behind it.”

He kept running and was urged to try to complete an official marathon.

“I actually got started because of my wife Kaitlyn,” Leo said. “She said I should sign-up for a marathon. I ran my first marathon in 2015 and was lucky enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon on my first attempt in 2016,” adding. “It all started with Boston. At the race expo, I learned about the six major marathons and Abbott’s six starts. I knew right away I wanted to complete them all.”

Abbotts refer to the governing body, Abbott World Marathon Majors. They introduced the Six Star Medal to honour the runners who have completed all six major marathons.

Not anyone can just sign up to run a marathon. For the major events, you must qualify to be there.

“To gain entry into the major marathons you have to meet a qualifying standard or sign-up for a charity,” Leo explained. “I was lucky enough to qualify for Boston (2016), Chicago (2017), New York (2018), and Berlin (2019), as a fast runner. For London, (2022), Abbots came out with a virtual marathon run and the top 100 runners around the world gained entry into the race. I think I finished 17th, which is amazing because this is the one I wanted to run in the most and couldn’t wait to experience the finish line at Buckingham palace. This was also the most difficult since international runners can only apply through a lottery system. For Tokyo (2023) Abbotts had a special lottery system in which if you had five starts you can enter a special draw for the six star. I was selected as one of 100 runners around the world.”

Leo said a big moment for him was during the London marathon, when he “stopped during the marathon, kissing my little guy and wife and long the course. It was his first time seeing me run. He was one year-old at the time.”

Being a marathon runner takes a lot of gruelling training.

Leo trains by running 100 km per week, turning it up a notch during the summer months and running 140 km per week.

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