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Tri-State native returns for marathon milestone

May 04, 2006|by ANDY MASON

Todd Byers began training for the 1986 Emerald City Marathon in Seattle because he didn't have any friends.

"I moved to Seattle from West Virginia University and just wanted to stay fit," said Byers, a 1981 graduate of Berkeley Springs High School and a 1985 WVU grad. "I didn't know anyone, and running was something I could do on my own."

Byers is now best friends with the running community.

He's affectionately known as Barefoot Todd to some. He's a coach and source of inspiration to others - and surely regarded as a nut by most.

Last weekend, Byers, 42, of Long Beach, Calif., returned to the area for a milestone run at the Frederick Marathon. Wearing bib No. 200, he completed his 200th marathon Sunday.

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"Lots of people were taking my picture and congratulating me along the way," Byers said. "They saw No. 200 and knew it was me."

It would have been fairly easy to pick him out of the pack. Byers ran all 26.2 miles in his bare feet, just as he runs most of his marathons.

"They're the shoes that came with me," he said. "I don't do it for notoriety or anything. I just do it because it works for me. Everything in moderation."

Byers' definition of moderate, obviously, is different from most people's.

He's run at least one marathon per year since 1986. For almost the last three years, he's run at least one per month. Last year, he ran 20 marathons. Last month, he ran three, including two in one weekend.

"It's fun," he said. "You get to see a lot of different places and meet a lot of different people."

Byers has run marathons in roughly half the states in the U.S. and in Europe, Asia, Australia and Antarctica.

"The one that was the most unique was the Antarctica Marathon," he said. "The year I did it (2000), we ran around the ship we were on, all 26.2 miles of it."

While Byers loves the races, he doesn't get overly worked up about the competition. At the Frederick Marathon, he placed 426th out of 485 finishers in the men's division in 4 hours, 57 minutes - roughly twice the amount of time it took the winner to complete the event.

Byers, who helps coach the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training, said he would rather help someone else run a personal best than record one himself.

"In the past, I was concerned about time. I used to be a 3-hour marathoner," he said. "But now, I like to work with other people and run with them and help them get through it."

Byers won't be stuck on No. 200 for long.

"I want to keep running at least one marathon a month for as long as I can," he said. "I have no intention of stopping. It's part of my lifestyle."




Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at andrewm@herald-mail.com

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