The Wigwam Blog


As we conclude our series of posts on running and marathons over the last couple of months, we had a single burning question to ask one of our long time Wigwam advocates, Payge McMahon. Payge, who has focused much of her adult life pursing the completion of a 25 item bucket list of exotic and athletic endeavors, has thus far fulfilled over half of the items on her list. Interestingly enough though, there is a single item that she has marked “pending” for two years now. This item on the list happens to be “Run a Marathon”. So, we at Wigwam felt compelled to reach out and ask the simple question: Why have you yet to complete one? Payge was kind enough to respond to this question in her own words:


Running a marathon is one of the most popular items people put on their bucket list.  It is #13 on mine. A 26.2-mile adventure, over 500,000 people finished one of the 1,100 marathons held in the U.S. last year.  I was not one of them.

It’s a Challenge

Truth be told, I don’t even like running that much, but there it is, ‘Run a Payge Mcmahon Medal WinnerMarathon,’ listed at #13. It comes right after #12, ‘North Pole & Polar Bears.’   If I were smart, I’d enter the North Pole Marathon and kill two birds with one snowball.  Alas, I like being cold even less then the thought of running 26.2 miles in -40F. That would be torture.  So why do I have either on my bucket list?  I love the challenge.

My bucket List #13 has been in ‘pending’ status since 2012. I keep putting it off because I want to actually run the whole marathon. I know I can run, hike, walk and crawl out 26.2 miles in a day. Most reasonably, healthy people can.   The average person walks at a 3 mph pace, which means they can crank out a marathon in less than 9 hours.  I want to run a marathon…all of it.

I have no illusions of ever qualifying for Boston. This body is not built for speed, but it does have endurance. 

Why Run a Marathon When You Can Do an Ultra-Marathon?

In 2012, I finished a 167-mile, self-supported, ultra marathon, stage race called The Grand to Grand Ultra.  While each person carryied a 19 lb. backpack, with all their food and gear for the week, we raced 7 days alongside the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and around Zion National Park.  We went up and down mountains, over sand dunes and through forests. While I was an experienced distance backpacker and mountain climber, I was the only competitor who had never run a marathon.  I’m pretty sure most thought I was crazy.  Maybe I was.  Who enters an ultra-marathon without ever running a marathon?  I had to look at this race as ‘aggressive backpacking,’ otherwise, I would have been too intimidated to enter. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. My whole body suffered, but I ran, hiked and traversed my way to finish 40 out of 60.

Leading up to the G2G Ultra, I had run five, half-marathons with average time of two hours and eleven minutes. In training, I had planned to run a whole marathon, but when the turn-off came, separating the full marathon course from the half, I wimped out and only did the 13.1 miles. I knew I couldn’t run the entire last half.  It was hard just to run 13.1 miles.

The Time Has Come

I’ve been putting it off and putting it off, but this year I turn 40 and am Payge Mcmahon Finish Linedetermined to check #13 off my bucket list.  I am building up my stamina and working on mechanics.  I am a heel striker and look like a rhino plodding through mud. I’ve always wanted to be that graceful runner who effortlessly glides and bounces down the trail, like a gazelle.  I have a running coach now and hope he can help correct my form. 

My goal, by the end of 2014, is to run a full marathon. Ideally, I’d like to finish in under 4:30, but I’m not going to worry so much about the time as I am on the running.  I don’t have to run fast, I just want to run all of it.


We want to thank Payge for contributing her time to this post and wish her the best of luck in completing whatever marathon she happens to choose to participate in this upcoming year. You can read her bio for more information on what inspired her bucket list and be sure to visit to follow her adventures around the world.

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