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Madison Marathon Profile: Douglas Dulli

Madison, WI runner and neurologist Douglas Dulli (62) did not start running until just before his 40th birthday. He ran the very first Madison Marathon in 1994 and this year, the November 9 Madison Marathon will mark his 100th marathon event.

 Focal Flame Photography, official race photographers for the 2014 Madison Marathon, asked him about why he runs.


Focal Flame Photography (FFP): How many Madison Marathons or Half Marathons have you run?
Douglas:
Eight.

FFP: How many total marathons or half marathons have you run?
Douglas:  
I've run 94 marathons and have signed up for six more this year, the last – number 100 - being the Madison Marathon on November 9. I’ve done approximately 35 half-marathons.

 Douglas Dulli competes not just in marathons, his favorite type of endurance event, but also triathlons. Here he shows a tough countenance during the 2013 Devil's Challenge Triathlon. © 2013 Focal Flame Photography | Photo credit: Clint Thayer

Douglas Dulli competes not just in marathons, his favorite type of endurance event, but also triathlons. Here he shows a tough countenance during the 2013 Devil's Challenge Triathlon. © 2013 Focal Flame Photography | Photo credit: Clint Thayer

FFP: Do you participate in other similar events?
Douglas:
I love the longer distance triathlons (half and full IronMan) because they are so much fun and much in the spirit of marathoning.  I run many shorter races, both to keep up my tempo speed and to participate in these wonderful community events. Lake Monona and Shamrock Shuffle are two of my favorites, as are the Berbee Derby, the sprint triathlons of the Wisconsin Tri Series, the High Cliff and Door County half-IronMans.  

FFP: Are there any personal accomplishments you would like to mention?
Douglas:
I've run the Boston Marathon 10 times, beginning in 1994 when there were only 8,700 competitors. My personal record in the marathon is 3:06:27, set in 1995 at Lakefront Marathon, at age 44.

My race highlights include:

  • IronMan Wisconsin: 5 times (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)
  • 50-mile ultra marathon:  2 times
  • Half-IronMan triathlon: about 12 times
  • Community 5/10/15/20K running races and sprint triathlon: too many to count
  • Birkebeiner XC ski race: 2 times 
  • 100-mile bicycle races (e.g., Dairyland Dare, Oconomowoc 100, Race the Lake): about 10

Douglas Dulli’s Personal Story

FFP: What does running and participating in events such as the Madison Marathon mean to you?
Douglas:
Endurance races all have a sense of adventure in the challenge of merely getting to the finish line. With the marathon, "hitting the wall" at mile 17 or so may literally take one out of the race. With experience, that adventure becomes more rather than less exciting to me...I love every aspect of the race, from the preparation the night before to crossing mile 26 and seeing the big "FINISH" in the distance. Even when I don't do as well, I have the satisfaction of putting on that finisher's medal, and the reward of 26 miles worth of endorphin. There's nothing like it!

FFP: With so many races to choose from, why do you participate in the Madison Marathon? What makes it special?  
Douglas:
I am from Madison and am first and foremost a marathon runner. It fits! The Madison Marathon is neither easy nor especially predictable. But it's my home and since most of my running "career" has been on its streets, I feel a special bond to it.

FFP: Do you do anything to make the race more meaningful or fun?
Douglas:
I've coached first-time marathoners for the fundraiser "Train to End Stroke" and the Disney Marathon. I've trained with Movin' Shoes and HeadHunters, a local triathlon club. I also ran with my son to pace him for his first marathon.

FFP: What would you tell other racers about participating in the Madison Marathon?
Douglas:
It's well supported, it's a lot of fun, but it "ain't easy"!

FFP: Is there anything else about your journey as a runner that you would like to share
Douglas:
All endurance athletes have a favorite or "specialty" race. Mine is the marathon. But we all, as athletes, have found such rewards associated with running, biking, swimming, or skiing distance that I am excited to see this culture as a whole develop. I'm particularly glad to see the proliferation of races like the Madison Half-Marathon, which makes endurance running more attainable for beginners or runners with their own challenges. Above all these benefits, I think it's most inspiring to be able to think of oneself as an athlete, a concept which is so foreign to many of us who didn't excel in high school team sports. The many other cardiac and health benefits are so important but secondary to that psychological one. 

This article is part of a series featuring athletes who are participating in the Madison Half Marathon or Madison Marathon on November 9, 2014.  For more information and to register, visit Madison Marathon. 

- Interview by Deb Proctor