Mike Rauh just ran his 43rd New York City Marathon and is part of a special group of runners that have completed at least 15 New York City Marathons, joining over 1,000 others who have done just that.
But he’s part of an even more elite group of marathon runners that includes over 150 runners called Streakers that have completed 15 consecutive New York City Marathons or more.
And among that group, only 4 other people have completed more than Rauh in the marathon’s 51 years and an honor he shares with four other runners who are tied with him at 43 completed.
But despite such an outstanding and prestigious recognition and record out of hundreds of thousands of participants of the New York City Marathon during the more than half a century that it has been in existence, you’d never know given his humble nature that was very apparent when we interviewed him over the phone last year.
Born in Ridgewood, Queens, Mark Rauh has been living on City Island for over 50 years since a fateful Thanksgiving when he drove a woman home to the famous, Bronx seaside community on the Long Island Sound.
This woman would later become his wife and he hasn’t left the island ever since, according to conversations with the 75-year-old Streaker.
His journey into the world of running wasn’t as straightforward as one might think, given the fact that he’s completed 43 New York City Marathons to date.
According to Rauh, while in high school, he went to try out for the basketball team thinking that tryouts were on a Thursday only to be told that he had just missed the tryouts by a couple of days.
The coach saw the look of disappointment on his face and suggested he try out for the track team. After being on his high school’s track team for a year, he was hooked and never looked back.
“Had I made it to that basketball tryout, I would not be running.”
He entered his first New York City Marathon in 1978 after cheering on a friend the previous year. That year, his finish time was 3 hours and 22 minutes flat with a pace of 7 minutes and 42 seconds per mile according to the New York Road Runners website.
After that, he was hooked.
Then came 1982, the year he ran his fastest race.
Rauh told us, “That year, I kept training maniacally and trained some more. I did everything possible from my diet to reading every running magazine and article I could get my hands on and I finally got to a 6 minute and 52 second pace to get to under 3 hours to complete the marathon.”
Finally, on October 24, 1982, marathon day had arrived.
“I remember getting to mile 20 at 2 hours and 14 minutes. I knew I couldn’t slow down or slack. I remember getting to miles 22 and 23 and calculating that I might finish at 3 hours and 1 minute,” Rauh said. He added, “I remember thinking that I’d rather quit than miss the under 3-hour mark by so little but I kept going.”
He fondly recalled that once he was nearing the finish line in Central Park, he heard one of the announcers, Kurt Steiner, say, “If you’re within the sound of my voice, you can still do it.”
Rauh knew what that meant. He said, no one needed to ask Steiner meant you could still complete the race in just under 3 hours.
He crossed the finish line at 2 hours, 59 minutes and 22 seconds with 38 minutes to spare.
Decades later, Mike kept running and running, expanding his streak: 15 consecutive races, then 20, then 25, then 30.
There was no stopping him even if he was feeling under the weather.
Then in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the city and the country as well as leaving over 5,000 dead in The Bronx alone, the in-person marathon was canceled and instead went virtual.
But that still didn’t stop him as Rauh ran the marathon anyway on his own.
While not even the pandemic could stop him, unfortunately last year he almost didn’t run due to falling seriously ill around the Fourth of July from an acute, bacterial infection which left him in excruciating pain for months.
For 9 weeks, he was going back and forth between his home and the hospital, under various medications, and even intensive care because he wasn’t getting better.
Not only wasn’t he running as a result of the illness but he wasn’t even walking at this point.
Finally, as Rauh started to recover, it wasn’t until well into September that he finally tried to walk half a mile to see if he could run.
“There was a really serious doubt that I was gonna make it to the starting line,” he said.
Asked whether he’d run, he said he’d make a decision a week before the race.
About 3 weeks before last year’s marathon, he ran 20 miles and knew that if he could get to that 20 then he could finish the full 26.2-mile course.
And despite being ill for months and up until just weeks before the race, Mike Rauh ran and completed in his 42nd New York City Marathon coming in at 6 hours, 38 minutes and 45 seconds with a 15 minute, 13 second pace.
Fast-forward to this past Sunday, at the ripe, young age of 75, Mike completed his 43rd consecutive New York City Marathon and while finishing with a time of 7:04:12 and a pace of 16:11, it’s no longer about how fast you can finish but pushing through and getting through the entire 26.2-mile course.
“You never know what fate has destined for you,” he told us last year when we spoke to him after his race and truer words were never spoken.
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