Sequim’s Chuck Milliman gets some stretching in near Carrie Blake Park in early October. Milliman says he’s in training to complete a three-day, three-marathon (78.6-mile) run to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Club. Sequim Gazette photo by Michael Dashiell
by MICHAEL DASHIELL
For a guy who didn't discover running until he was nearly 40 years old, Chuck Milliman seems like he was born to run.
Now retired, Milliman was a minister at the Church of God in Anderson, Ind., and in Sequim for a decade before retiring about nine years ago. His conversion to the running faithful came from his middle child, Bruce.
"He decided I was getting out of shape," Milliman says now, hardly breaking a grin that lasts nearly an entire conversation.
"I just enjoyed running. It's the sense of doing something, the sense of accomplishment."
In November, Milliman is setting out to accomplish the longest race of his life, with all the benefits going to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.
Milliman is in training to run a three-day, three-marathon gauntlet that ends on Nov. 15, his 78th birthday.
That's right. That's 26.2 miles on Saturday, Nov. 13. Another 26.2-mile run on Sunday. And capping it off on Monday with a 26.2-mile jog.
Sound a little crazy, right? Milliman isn't necessarily disagreeing. But his grin hardly breaks when he considers his challenge.
"I know I can do the first one. I don't have any doubt about the second one. But the last one ..."
No stranger to personal challenges - he's run more than 55 marathons in his lifetime and boasts a national title in his age group (and runner-up at a the world championships) in pole vault - Milliman wanted to combine this personal challenge and raise some dollars for a good cause.
He considered several local charities, but friends and acquaintances kept mentioning the Boys & Girls Club, a low-cost after-school club serving about 300 local youths per day.
Milliman, who has three grown children of his own, is donating all funds raised to buy shoes, gloves, hats and coats for youths at the Sequim and Port Angeles clubs.
An unusual fundraiser
Mary Budke, director of the Sequim Boys & Girls Club unit, said it's uncommon that an individual would make this kind of public donation.
"People usually just give us cash or checks or a computer," Budke says. "It's rare that someone does something to draw attention to what we do."
Not only is Milliman raising funds to benefit these youths, but he's also raising awareness to club members about physical fitness and the kind of determination it takes to complete such a challenge.
"What he's doing directly ties to what we're teaching," Budke says, pointing out the Boys & Girls Club's second "pillar," extolling healthy lifestyles. Milliman makes it a point to talk with the club youths about not only what he's doing but why he's doing it.
"He's ... sending a direct message to the kids before he sets a foot on the track or in the gym," Budke says. "It's kind of a call to action."
No stranger to going the distance
Milliman's first organized race was a marathon in 1973 - the Trail's End marathon in Seaside, Ore.
Since then he's done 56 more marathons ("that I can remember," he says, chuckling) including the Trail's End race 25 consecutive years in a row.
The joy came whether he was running with himself; his wife, Shirley; or their children Phillip (the eldest), Bruce or Kimberly.
The exercise also helped with working out the daily demands of his clergy position.
"It (running) really helps stress; I didn't know that until later," Milliman says.
In his peak training period, Milliman says he was running 50-60 miles a week, a regimen he's brought down to 20-25 per week now.
"As I've gotten older, it's become more of a chore," he says.
A heart bypass nine years ago slowed but didn't stop Milliman's running habit. Now, like many runners of every age range, he intersperses his runs with periods of walking.
It's a method he used more than two decades ago in Oregon City, Ore., when he ran 51 miles for his 51st birthday - all the miles in one shot. It took Milliman 10 hours and 36 minutes and he used a 15-minutes-of-running, five-minutes-of-walking method.
"I wasn't sore or stiff," he recalls. "That's what got me thinking about it (the 78-miler)."
On his fliers posted around town, Milliman asks for modest donations - 10 cents, 25 cents per mile, or whatever one can give.
The route is set
Milliman's tri-marathon course already is mapped out. He plans to run 9.1 miles on the treadmill at Anytime Fitness, then a loop of about a mile close to the facility where he'll be joined by members of the Boys & Girls Club (the loop doesn't cross any streets).
Then he'll run west to Fifth Avenue, south to Washington Street, east back to Hurricane Coffee - where he'll stop for a cup - and back to Anytime Fitness, a 13.1-mile loop. Then he'll do it again and call it a day.
Milliman insists he's going to do it safely, with plenty of food and water, nearby aid and even a fan to keep himself cool.
And he's not out to set any speed records.
"Just as long as I finish (those marathons) in 24 hours," Milliman says.
With a few fliers posted and word-of-mouth, the Sequim man already has raised more than $1,000 for his B&G Club fundraiser - which spurred yet another goal: $7,800 by that 78th birthday.
"He's an inspiration," Budke says. "I think he is incredible."
For more information or to donate, call Milliman at 775-4077, or the Sequim Boys & Girls Club at 683-8095.