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Minnesota man about to 'run' down an impressive accomplishment

At 72, there's no stopping John Naslund, who has run in more than 200 races — marathon-length or longer.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Running a marathon is a bucket list item for many folks, but what if you ran that race and just kept going? That's the case for a Bloomington man. He's gearing up for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in October, and with it a pretty impressive streak.

Everyone has their thing. For John Naslund, it’s 26.2.

"I started training for marathons in 1973. So, I was a year out of college at the time,” says Naslund.

He's now 72 and still going. Like, really going.

“I probably averaged over 3,000 miles a year for over 50 years,” he recalls.

John has run in more than 200 races — marathon-length or longer.

“50ks, double crossing of the Grand Canyon, 50-milers, 100k around Lake Mille Lacs, Western States 100-miler — I've raced up on the north end of Baffin Island, double marathons across the tundra. That was really a hoot,” he laughs.

That’s a heck of a lot of running and John has plenty to show for it. Medals and t-shirts and memorabilia galore.

“They kind of just accumulate,” he says while pulling a handful of marathon medals out of a bag he keeps in the closet.

As much as he’s accomplished, John has a couple of streaks that are impressive to say the least. He’s run every, single, Grandma’s Marathon. Yep. All of them.

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"Once you do the first one, you sign up for the next one and the next one,” he says. “And years go by, and there's seven left, and then there's three left, and now there's two of us left and we just finished our 46th."

And because one streak isn't good enough, John is also one of 14 people who have run every Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. Yes, even 2020. You know, the year that wasn't.

"We ran it on that day, on that course, so nobody can come back and say, 'Well, you had this streak going, but you didn't run it in 2020,' and we can document it,” he adds.

He's not just out there for fun. He's competitive.

“Fastest was 2:28 and that was Milwaukee. The Lakefront Marathon back in 1981,” he says.

And he's never started a marathon he hasn't finished.

“Failure is not an option."

What keeps him coming back to the starting line each time? Well, like we said, everyone has their thing.

“What keeps you getting up in the morning every day? It's just what you do,” he says.

John isn't focused on any record or streak; he just loves it. All of it. So, there's no real reason to stop lacing up.

“I'm blessed to be durable so I'm going to keep at it," he says.

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