Panama City Beach woman aims for consecutive marathon No. 75, record book
PANAMA CITY BEACH — After shattering a world record for most consecutive marathons run by a woman roughly a week ago, Alyssa Clark hopes her story will inspire others to achieve their dreams.
At 27 years old, Clark, a competitive ultra-marathon runner, came up with a unique way to pass the time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After a list of races she was preparing for got canceled, she decided to put her cardio to the test and run a marathon every day until quarantine restrictions loosened.
Her challenge began March 31 in Naples, Italy, where she and her husband, Codi, who is in the Navy, previously lived for two years. The two have since moved to Panama City Beach.
“It definitely started out as something to test my fitness (and) to go after a goal,” Clark said. “It’s hard to go after goals right now. There’s a lot of cancellations and restrictions.
“When I started it, it was also a way to ... relieve a bit of anxiety about not being able to really move at all,” she added. “Then, I started posting about it (on social media) ... and it seemed to be inspiring others to start working out and do the best they could in their situations, and that inspiration also inspired me to continue.”
As coronavirus restrictions were extended, Clark’s end date drifted farther away. With about 30 consecutive marathons already under her belt, she shifted her sights toward a new goal — breaking the woman’s world record for most consecutive marathons ran. Clark added that the previous record, set in 2015, was 60 marathons. As of Friday, she had finished her 67th marathon and planned to continue until reaching 75.
“I kind of run by the mentality that if a little is good, a lot is better,” she said. “I’ve always thought of myself as a lucky person. I don’t particularity think I’m special, I just think I’m stubborn and determined.”
To pass the roughly four hours it takes to run the more than 26-mile treks, Clark listens to audio books, sometimes runs with friends and even chats with her mom on the phone. She starts each run at about 6:30 a.m.
“I also think about all the people who believe in me,” she added on what keeps her in the zone. “That really helps a lot, and that definitely keeps me going.”
Immediately following each run, Clark eats a high-protein meal to kick start her recovery. She added that it’s essential to feed her body lots of calories to fuel her runs, especially as she nears her finish line.
Looking ahead, she plans to compete in a 240-mile ultra marathon slated for this fall.
"It means the world to me that I can be an example that if you set your mind to something you can do it,“ Clark said. “I really hope that I can continue to inspire others to chase after their dreams and goals because no matter who you are or where you are, you can do it.”