Triangle champion Steede eyes 121st marathon
He has long been known as Bermuda’s marathon man, and Cal Steede will add to that legend as he competes in his 121st marathon on Sunday.
He will also be continuing his unbroken streak of participation in every Royal Gazette Bermuda Triangle Challenge since winning in 2008’s inaugural three-race event.
Steede, 60, took up the sport in his thirties. His first marathon was the Boston Marathon, where he ran 3hr 20min. The distance quickly became his favourite and by the time he was 40, he’d bagged 40 marathons.
His ability to consistently run on average between four and seven marathons each year saw his career total reach 100 in 2012. He has continued to add to that tally despite illness sidelining him for a time.
“I stayed focus and if I set myself a goal, even if I wasn’t in shape but I’d signed up to a race, then I would do it.”
For a decade before the Bermuda Triangle Challenge became an official three-race competition, Steede was already doing the mile, 10K and marathon during the weekend.
Remembering his Bermuda Triangle Challenge victory in 2008, he said: “My goal was to try and win it, because I had run it so many years prior. I said to myself ‘I’m going to try and win or place in the top few.’”
In the marathon on the final day, he aimed to reach McGall’s Hill on the second loop and, if he still felt good, give everything he had in the last nine miles to try and win.
“And that’s what happened. When I won I was overjoyed, because I can look back on it and say I won this major race in my own country.”
This year he intends to extend his unbroken streak of participation in the Challenge. He said: “I think I’m the one who has run it the most times.”
However, he admits he is not in the shape he’d like to be.
“I pulled a muscle in November. But I’m still going to run the marathon, despite not putting in all the training that I would like to. It’s a new course and I want to do it.”
Although he hasn’t run the new marathon route from Dockyard, he has seen parts of it. He said: “It’s a great change. It is going to be challenging to some people because it has more hills, but it’s very scenic and the tourists will enjoy that.
“When we come to Trimingham Hill and we meet the people doing the half-marathon, that adds benefit to anyone doing the marathon, because now there is somebody else on the course that you can help and they can help you. Whereas years ago you were all by yourself on that second loop.”
Beyond the marathon distance, Steede has twice run the 55-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa. The first year was 2014, and he completed it within the 12-hour cut-off time. He returned the following year and ran 1hr 20min faster. He plans to compete in the Comrades Marathon again, next year.
“I’m taking this year to get back in shape and then return in 2021,” he said.
The Marine Corps Marathon, in Washington DC, is among his favourite events. He has run it 25 times. Another favourite is the Boston Marathon, which he has run 17 times.
His best time for a marathon is 2:49, which he achieved in Boston. While he is no longer running times like that, he is not concerned.
“I’ve come to the point now where I think I’ve done the best I can, and so now I am just running to enjoy them and still explore countries around the world that I’ve wanted to go to.
“I don’t let my times put me down. I don’t have anything to prove. My personal goal is to just complete them.”
Asked why he runs, he said: “I enjoy it. It is good for my health. It’s a very healthy sport, it’s good for your heart and also good for your weight.
“If people went out and did a few miles it would benefit them in the long run.
“Another big thing is, you go to a country for a race and you meet people from all over the world, and that’s how I got to do other races — by talking to people about races. And I’ve invited people to come to Bermuda to run.”
His intention is to keep running for as long as his body allows.
“When I get to the point where I can no longer do marathons, I will stop them and do half-marathons, and when I can’t do them any more I will stop and do 10Ks, and after that I will just see how it goes.”
He added: “I’d like to still be running until I’m 70-plus.”
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