"Running makes life better and allows you to get frustration out of your system."

Matthew Jaffe '63

Historically, the honor of running the first marathon belongs to a Greek soldier Pheidippides. As a messenger delivering news of victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon, he inspired a sport that still reaches the pinnacle of Olympic glory. According to legend, he ran 150 miles to Athens in a scant two days. While he was able to deliver his words of triumph to an eager audience, the messenger dropped dead from exhaustion after delivering his announcement. It is no wonder then that marathoners fascinate sports enthusiasts, as they seem to accomplish the impossible.

Attorney Matthew Jaffe '63 could make Pheidippides proud. In 1976, the U.S.Marine Corps established the Marine Corps Marathon, a race covering the Washington, D.C., area. To date, only four runners, including Jaffe, have participated in every run since 1976. The elite group calls themselves the "Ground Pounders." While at Bucknell, the-attorney-to-be was a wrestler. He also discovered Mike Ekiss '64, a passionate runner,who helped extend Jaffe's cross-training. He began with relatively short three-mile runs. Within a decade his conditioning rose to a level allowing him to take on his first marathon. To date, Jaffe, 69, has run 33 Marine Corps marathons, as well as other marathons and shorter races.

A member of an aerobically oriented family, he currently has a new interest, race-walking, another sport with ancient and venerable roots. His wife, Karen Weiss, a medical doctor, bikes back and forth to work, covering some 34 miles a day. Their four children also have participated in running, no doubt inspired by their parents' feats.

Jaffe says that running has improved every aspect of his life."Running makes life better and allows you to get frustration out of your system." He plans to run 50 Marine Corps marathons, a goal that will take him into his 80s. He says, "I'd rather die than not do this!"

Posted May 2010

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