John Wallis - Inductee - 2007

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Ultra Marathoner

A baseball, basketball, football and soccer player as a youth, John Wallis found his athletic niche in 1978 when, at the age of 40, he entered a 10-kilmeter race in Chicago. At that time, he was a single parent raising three small daughters and he had neither the time nor financial resources to follow other recreational pursuits. Since then, has run over 75 ultra marathons, including races in Greece and England. The length of his races ranges from the initial 10K event to the 2,961 Trans-America Footrace that began in Huntington Beach, California and ended in New York's Central park. The Trans-America was run in 64 daily stages, ranging from 28 to 62 miles and Wallis, at age 55, finished 11th. In his career, he set world age-group records for 1,000 and 2,700 miles and U.S. age-group records for races of the following lengths: 48 hours, 100-kilometers, 100 miles, six days, 700 miles, 1,000 miles and 2,700 miles. He has covered 1,000 miles in 14 days, 9 hours and 45 minutes. It took him 49 days to cover 2,700 miles and he has done 700 miles in 10 days, 7 hours, 25 minutes. He once covered 446 miles in six days, and he has run 209 miles in 48 hours. What is the challenge? "Stretch your limit. Test your limits. It's kind of learining about what your mind and body can do," Wallis says. In 1996, Wallis had planned to compete in a 1,300-mile race in New York but a kidney stone attack hospitalized him for 4 1/2 days and he settled on the 700-mile race. In the first 24 hours, Wallis covered 97 miles and broke the field. It's a prime example of why Wallis's nickname is 'Relentless.' The key to success in the world of ultra marathoning, according to Wallis, is patience. "You have to constantly monitor your body and stay within your own limits. It's one thing to poop out with three miles to go. It's another when you've still got 30 days to go." Born in Fremont, Michigan, he lived in Cadillac before moving to Pennsylvania where he graduated from high school in Williamsport. A graduate of Lycoming College, Wallis also has degrees from George Washington University, the University of Maryland and Central Michigan University. He spent 30 years as a teacher, coach and school administrator.