MYRTLE BEACH — Murray Honick may not be fast, but he knows how to go the distance.
The Surfside-area psychiatrist said he doesn’t run with speed, but he has been consistently marking miles as a marathoner since 2008, when his only goal was to complete the race and mark it off his bucket list.
“I thought, ‘That was nice, but I’m never going to do that again,’ ” said Honick of his first long-distance outing. “But it’s addictive,” he said.
So much so that he kept adding races – and marathon medals – seeing what he could accomplish and he passed not one, but two milestones last month. He crossed the finish line Sept. 1 in Kauai, completing 50 marathons in 50 states, and he reached the top level – Titanium – of nine levels in the national Marathon Maniacs club Sept. 22, having run 30 marathons in 30 states within one year.
“I’m one of about 160 people to have [reached Titanium level],” said Honick, who said the Maniacs number about 7,800 members. “It’s challenge – an eye-opening experience.”
Honick is part of a growing number of people who have started running marathons and setting these types of goals, said Bart Yasso, chief running officer for Runner’s World magazine.
“Thirty years ago, this didn’t exist, but I meet a lot of people who are taking up running not just as a sport, but as a lifestyle and a vehicle to travel and create new friendships,” Yasso said, “but you still have to run the race – it’s an awesome achievement.”
Honick, who is a member of the Grand Strand Running Club, said he first became interested in running about 10 years ago after volunteering at several Myrtle Beach marathons as a member of the Surfside Rotary Club. The marathon is held in February, and he said running was a way to be there but not be cold.
“I thought the only way to get out of this is to start running,” Honick said, “but there’s something about seeing runners meet up at the finish line. You can just see the emotion, and I like the social aspects.”
Honick said he started with the Rotary Club’s 10k race, and worked his way up to half-marathons, enduring a series of mishaps along the way. It took “every bit of four months” for him just to learn the proper way to run, he said, including how to stretch and how to select the right running shoes.
Honick, who turns 60 in November, tackled his first marathon – 26.2 miles – about five years ago along with a partner from his practice, he said, and found the going a bit tough before he finished.
“I hit a wall about mile 20,” he said. “It was quite an accomplishment for me to go across the finish line.”
Honick never set any lofty goals at the beginning, but he kept moving forward with every race. Meeting the Maniacs at the Las Vegas Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in 2009 was a turning point when he learned he could join by running three marathons in 90 days, and the rest is history.
Mike Shank, executive director of the MyrtleBeach.com Myrtle Beach Marathon, said Honick has been traveling everywhere for the past year, even running two races in one weekend. He said each course differs greatly in temperature and terrain, and that many marathons requires a certain kind of motivation.
“Sometimes when I run, I’m so glad I’m done, and I don’t want to do that for a while. Think of the time commitment, the financial commitment, the dedication and travel coordination this took – it’s a huge accomplishment to be able to do it and to be healthy at the end of it.”
Honick said the sport is addictive, but since he started running, he has lost 25 pounds, his cholesterol and other lab work are good, and he can eat whatever he wants. The sport also gives him time to think and put things in perspective, and he recommends running to his patients for stress relief and to help them reduce their medications, he said.
“Human bodies are meant to be in motion, and anyone can do it,” Honick said.
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.