'I'm making my miles count:' Ridgefield woman to run her 100th marathon in November

RIDGEFIELD — When the New York City Marathon welcomes thousands of runners in person in November, it will be a special day.

But, it may hold greater significance for Ridgefield’s Claire Gladstone, who has been running marathons for nearly 10 years. This will be her eight NYC Marathon, and her 100th overall.

When Gladstone, 54, ran her first marathon in Mount Desert Island, Maine, in 2012, she swore she’d never run one again.

“It was excruciating,” she recalled, “but once I got a few years into it … my mindset changed.”

In 2013, Gladstone ran her first NYC Marathon where she raised money for Fred’s Team, a nonprofit that supports cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

“I realized I wasn’t just running for me,” she said. “I’m making my miles count for something else.”

Gladstone tackled two marathons in 2014 and her first ultramarathon in 2015. That year a friend pointed her to an article in The Wall Street Journal that said running marathons closer together could improve one’s time.

To test the science, she ran the Philadelphia Marathon just three weeks after the NYC Marathon. “I had my personal best time and realized the story was true,” Gladstone said.

Around this time, Gladstone also learned of the Marathon Maniacs club based in Tacoma, Wash. To become a “maniac,” runners must complete two marathons in 16 days or three marathons in 90 days. Gladstone shot for the latter.

In January 2016, Gladstone jetted down to the Bahamas to qualify for the club. While running in the sweltering heat feeling she wouldn’t finish, she caught up with a runner named David who she had been trailing for 20 minutes.

David was running his first marathon and was unsure if he would finish, but the two stayed together and “struggled through” to the finish line, Gladstone said.

It’s this kind of camaraderie that’s kept Gladstone coming back for more miles, she said.

“It’s not about how fast you can do it, it’s about the journey,” she said. “Meeting people, hearing their stories — there’s a strange lack of filter when you talk to people on the run.”

Gladstone had four marathons under her running shoes before the world shut down in 2020. She was scheduled to run the Tokyo Marathon that March and ascend into the Abbott World Marathon Majors community, which comprises runners who complete six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world.

She stopped training during the pandemic and only ran on a sporadic basis. But when she heard the NYC Marathon would be held in person this year, Gladstone resumed her running regimen.

“I wanted to make NYC my 100th (and) vowed in my fundraising that I would run for (Fred’s) Team until I can’t run anymore,” she said. “If I can do a little something with this crazy journey that I’m on … then I’m honored to do it.”

Gladstone anticipates that when she crosses 67th St. on West Drive in Manhattan, the finish will probably be an emotional one.

“It’s hard to know because every race is different, but I’m enjoying (it) every step of the way,” she said. “It’s gonna be pretty epic. All I need to do is get this 50-miler behind me and then we’ll be good to go.”

Gladstone will run her 98th marathon at Rock The Ridge in New Paltz, N.Y., this weekend. To support her donations to Fred’s Team, click here.

alyssa.seidman@hearstmediact.com