In May 2009, Roger Marquis and his son, Hogan, ran 500 miles from Fort Kent to Kittery, making sure to include a detour down hilly U.S. Route 1A to Camp CaPella, which serves disabled people. The Marquises completed their “Wicked Long Run” as a benefit for the camp, and ended up raising the useful sum of $7,400.

Shortly afterward Roger, who lives in Old Town and works at General Electric in Bangor, reflected on the experience, on the shin trouble that had hobbled him and the knee woes that troubled Hogan, and reasoned that the whole thing had been “crazy, worse than I expected it would be.”

But about a month after that, like any normal marathoner (and this is a guy who ran a marathon for five straight weekends before embarking on the 500-miler) Roger began to think, Nah, “it wasn’t so bad …”

And when early this year he learned that GE would shut down for three weeks in August, Roger saw an opportunity for another Wicked Long Run, which is in progress. This month, again traveling by bike and on foot, father and son are covering by 1,500 miles, from Kittery to Jacksonville, Fla., to benefit the American Cancer Society. They set out July 31 and expect to finish in four weeks.

“It’s almost like a vacation,” says Hogan, 22, who’s nearly finished his UMaine studies. “A weird road trip …”

He is speaking over the phone from a motel room in Little River, S.C., following a 58-mile day that saw the two finally get settled to sleep about 1:30 on Friday morning. Now it’s just after 8 but a groggy-sounding Roger acknowledges, “it’s time to get up anyway.” Today is Day 21, the weather’s looking good (in contrast to Thursday’s downpour) and they plan to travel as far south on Route 17 as possible, reaching Myrtle Beach around noon.

Thursday began with Roger running 31 miles, as Hogan biked, hauling their humble equipment trailer. Roger ran the first 26.2 miles (marathon distance) in 4 hours, 43 minutes, which he calls “not great, but it is my 20th day in a row.” Then Hogan finished up with the next 27 miles. They’re more than 1,000 miles is, as of Friday. The longest day has been a 76-miler.

Unlike last year, their “bodies are holding up real well,” says Roger, 47, who’s dropped from 185 pounds into the 160s, as a 25-cent gas station scale revealed. Hogan is hoping that his body fat percentage declines from prerun 12.4 to under 10. Neither can estimate how many calories they’re taking in, but together they’re drinking five gallons of fluids daily, water and sports drinks combined, just during the travel time.

Theirs is not a glitzy quest. No trailing van, no masseuses, no personal chefs, no minders to mop their brows. They pay their own expenses and every cent — they’ve been handed some $1,400, in addition to donations on the website — goes to the ACS. Fly home? Nope, they’re going to rent a car, a convertible they hope, and drive.

“Down and dirty,” Hogan says. “It’s nice when we stay in a hotel and can do laundry, because the (clothing) actually gets disgusting, smelling like ammonia. We’re not these professional guys with the best gear.” Most nights they’ve stayed in their “crappy little Walmart tent,” also known as the Marquis Hilton, which allegedly sleeps 2-4 but Hogan estimates at 1.5.

As you would expect, there have been little challenges along the way. When a hotel in New Jersey had no room one night, the Marquises were allowed to pitch the tent out behind the dumpster on some lush soft grass, which was great until the ground sprinklers began dousing them from two directions at 7:15 a.m. The bike (nothing fancy, a mountain bike not much younger than Hogan) has had two flat tires. Somehow, the Marquises managed to get separated in Salisbury, Mass., on the very first day, and covered about 10 miles before reconvening and continuing to hit Revere at 11 that night.

But the high points have eclipsed the little problems for the Marquises, two of the most upbeat guys you could meet.

Kind hotels have given them cut rates or freebies. “People see our sign and cheer, or will drive next to us and want to talk, give us a check, the support has been great,” says Hogan. In Ocean City, Md., the owner of a gourmet ice cream shop treated them to sundaes.

Their stated goal is a hefty $50,000, which is less a genuine target than a number thrown out there, Roger explains. They’ll be happy to make whatever contribution they can. “Somebody who didn’t have anything else said, ‘Here’s a couple of apples,’ and that’s awesome,” Hogan says.

If you’d like to contribute, or just cheer them on, visit http://wickedlongrun.blogspot.com, or check out Wicked Long Run on Facebook.

 

John Rolfe of Portland is a staff writer and a road runner. He can be reached at 791-6429 or at:

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