Marathon man: Local runner has gone the distance in all 50 states
When Bryan Baroffio completed his first marathon in April 2004 in Moab, his family thought that was it.
So did he.
“After the race I was pretty sore and beat,” Baroffio said. “We got back to the hotel room, I’m laying on the bed. My wife (Sue) looks at my son and said, ‘We don’t have to worry about doing these anymore.’
“I’m supposed to be doing this for my health, but I’m beat. I thought that was it.”
Baroffio, though, was intrigued by the sport. He kept seeing advertisements for the Disney World marathon and in January 2005, decided to give it a try.
“We like going to Disney World anyway,” he thought.
That marathon was quite different. There were thousands of runners and Baroffio was more prepared.
Pretty soon, Baroffio started looking for the next marathon to run.
Six and a half years later, Baroffio, 52, has completed at least one marathon in all 50 states. His most recent one came three weeks ago in Hartford, Conn.
“My pastor asked me what’s next,” Baroffio said. “Hopefully, I’ll keep running. I have a friend who’s supposed to finish next year and said he’s done. I don’t see it like the finish line, but just another marker.
“I want to keep running. I’ll do the ones I want to do. I don’t want to feel obligated to do one in say, New Hampshire. I like to race and travel. I’ve completed 60 now. Maybe I’ll get 100. I still like it. You have to enjoy it.”
Baroffio’s running career started when his high school track coach encouraged him to try out his senior year.
After Baroffio graduated from Penn State University, he started working in Washington, D.C. He played hockey, but would get tired warming up. He decided to start running to get in shape to play hockey.
“I put my shoes on, went out, staggered back to the apartment and looked in the mirror my face was beet red and said I’ve got to do this again tomorrow,” he said. “I went crazy with it. I ran every day. People thought I was sick, I lost 30 pounds. I kept running. Eventually you go from 3 miles a day to 4 miles a day, to 20 miles a week to 25 to 30 miles a week.
“You get used to it. You have to brush your teeth every day and you have to get your runs in, not every day, but you have to a set goal every week.”
Baroffio moved to Grand Junction in 2001 and joined the Mesa Monument Striders. Now, he’s a member of the 50 states club and Marathon Maniacs.
He ran the Rim Rock Run three times, but would get Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome.
“I would have IT band injuries and my knees would be sore,” Baroffio said. “Every Rim Rock Run I was really hurting.
“That’s probably what got me wanting to do longer distances. Every time I did it, I was injured. There were other people doing this distance, why can’t I?”
Baroffio did some research and discovered the Pose Method in a magazine article.
The Pose Method is a running technique to reduce the impact on the knees by not overstriding.
“I started practicing it and went to a clinic,” he said. “I haven’t had a IT band problem since then. It lets me recover quicker.”
Baroffio started running more marathons, completing 20 in a 12-month period in 2008-09.
He ran in the New York City Marathon, the Boston Marathon and the Chicago Marathon. He even ran a marathon in Germany while on a business trip. Baroffio works for a satellite communications company.
“When you go to all these states, we’ve been able to make vacations out of these,” he said. “Every race I’ve done, it was always good experience. Plus, you really get to see a lot of the cities and the different neighborhoods. Each one, you get to see something.”
Baroffio will run in the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon next weekend while on a business trip and is registered for one in Arizona in December.
His best marathon time is 3 hours, 9 minutes, 51 seconds, in Virginia Beach, Va., last year. His average is 3:20 he said.
“In going to these, Sue would come along and enjoyed the visits,” Baroffio said. “She did some local 5Ks and did her first half-marathon. Then I found this club for her half-marathons in half the states. She completed them the same time I did.”
“It was a great day when he called,” Sue Baroffio said. “I found this club for you. I said, ‘Ohhh, good.’
“I read this article and it said you should share an interest with your husband like watching football games. I knew he was into running, so I thought I could do a 5K. Then I thought, ‘Why didn’t I just choose the football games?’ “
Although she laughs about the decision, she admits her husband has been an inspiration for her.
“Sometimes when I’m running, I think, if he passes me, that’s it,” Sue said. “The first three and the last three (miles) are the hardest for me. He’s very modest. He does very, very well.”