In December 1990, David Hamel took up a sport that would take him to 48 states and push his body to the limits — he began running 26.2-mile marathons.
Now 23 years later, Hamel, who lives in Spring Lake, N.C., and is an Eagle Scout and a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, has crossed the finish line of his 100th marathon.
So much so that he ponders about running.
“Marathoning for me is a philosophy about life. To be able to go the distance in whatever task you do and to finish what you start. To keep moving and resist becoming complacent. To stand on your own two feet. To take that first step, one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other, at your own pace, consistently. Running is a simple and pure sport ... there’s no coasting,” Hamel said.
Running, he said, allows him to find solace, balance and peace with himself and with God.
His latest marathon was the Ellerbe Springs Marathon in Ellerbe, N.C., on March 23. Hamel said he is two states (North Dakota and Minnesota) shy of completing a marathon in all 50 states. A run in North Dakota is planned for May.
Hamel’s personal record is 3 hours, 25 minutes, and 18 seconds, obtained in Sacramento, Calif. in 1991. Although Hamel has those fast-paced years in his rear-view mirror, he said he still looks forward to each race and manages to keep his finishing times well under five hours. Four marathons were completed in under 3:30 hours, and 30 in less than four hours.
The longest run was 32 miles in Okinawa, Japan in 1989.
An accomplished runner who has accumulated various awards and trophies, Hamel added that he has run all the marathons injury-free and has never dropped out of a race.
What has helped him in this quest?
Chiropractic adjustments are “like a front-end alignment on a car,” explained Hamel who also plays ice hockey each week at Cleland Ice Rink to stay in shape, and averages two, eight to 12-mile runs a week.
“I don’t have to train hard because I run so many marathons and it keeps me in shape,” said Hamel, who stands 5 foot, 7 inches tall and weighs 156 pounds. “I err on the side of recovery, so I’ll take the down time.”
Hamel began his athletic career by completing jungle runs in the late 80s in Asia, graduating to his first marathon at Naha, Okinawa. The only marathon he has ever repeated has been the Air Force Marathon, which he ran in 1997, 1999 and 2006.
On post, Hamel has competed in the annual Army Birthday 10-Miler races.
With more than two decades of running behind him, Hamel has no plans of stopping. He credits Hebrews 12:1, which reads, “…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” with giving him the inspiration to continue.
Seemingly true to the sport, when Hamel is not running, he enjoys reading books by Dr. George Sheehan, a journalist and author who chronicled his experiences and advocated that exercise may not give an extra day of life, but it will give extra life to every day.
It seems to be Hamel’s philosophy that keeps him running.