Arthur Brooks doesn’t plan on dressing as a Roman Centurion this time, like he did in Nashville, Tennessee, for his 200th marathon in 2009.
Known by his peers as “Jack,” Brooks won’t run his 400th marathon in a Halloween-esque, black-and-white striped convict costume, either, like he wore in 2012 for his 300th marathon in North Carolina.
This time around, for his 400th marathon at the Louisiana Marathon in downtown Baton Rouge next Sunday, the lifelong runner from England plans to be normal ol' Jack — a lifelong marathon racer who has completed at least one 26.2-mile run in all 50 U.S. States and in 34 different countries.
“I'd have loved to have done No. 400 (in a) fancy dress if I'd been fully fit,” Brooks said. “I'll just do this one in ordinary running kit.”
Since Brooks began running in 1991, the now-64-year-old has suffered multiple calf injuries. He’s endured two “serious” knee injuries, both of which kept Brooks from racing for roughly nine months. He has been injury-free since March 2016, he said.
Impressive to experience so few injuries as a 20-year runner? Brooks believes so. He said he knows of only one other runner who has suffered as few injuries in a lifetime of running, he said.
Even more impressive?
Brooks, a St Albans, England, native, completed his quest to 50 marathons — one in each U.S. state — between 2001-09, including Washington, D.C. His feat of at least one race in 34 different countries came between the ages of 39 and 64. Now, he’s slowed down a bit and runs 20-30 marathons a year.
Brooks loves to travel. That, combined with his growing passion for running, has kept him busy for more than 20 years.
By the time the Louisiana Marathon begins, Brooks will have dashed, and completed, a whopping 10,453.8 in-race miles.
“Fitting travel in around work between 2001 and 2009 was both a logistical and economical challenge,” Brooks said. “For example, over two consecutive weekends in 2006, a friend of mine and I ran marathons in Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island and Kentucky. I was exhausted by the end of that trip.”
Brooks said he finds racing and traveling to be extremely fulfilling in regards to cultivating friendships and relationships with fellow racers.
Having raced in 398 marathons thus far, 107 half-marathons, more than 50 10-kilometer races and around 30 5K races in different areas of the planet, Brooks has interacted with folks, whom he has since befriended, from all over the globe.
And he only began running at 39 years old while rooting for a friend to compete in a local half-marathon in England in the early 1990s. Then and there, Brooks' passion for marathon racing sparked.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and was overwhelmed by the encouragement and support I received from other runners,” he said. “From then on, I was hooked.”
He remembers his first race, too, in 1993. It was in London.
“4 hours 9 minutes,” he quipped.
Being an experienced, global runner, Brooks has seen it all, he said.
One of his favorite races resides in Pisa, Italy. The finish line, which he has crossed three times in his career, stands near the Leaning Tower of Pisa — one of Brooks’ favorite sights.
On Dec. 18, he crossed Pisa’s finish line for his 398th completed marathon near the structure’s attractive tilt.
“Spectacular,” he said.
Brooks is a member of a local running club in England, the “St. Albans' Striders,” with 500 members, and plans to complete his 399th marathon Sunday in Mobile, Alabama. He’s a part of a national running club in England, too, for those who have crossed 100 marathon finish lines.
Consistently, he trains with both clubs. He remembers the wacky stories like running in four marathons on consecutive weekends in the United States and when it all started approximately 24 years ago.
But his wackiest story?
When a massive gun battle broke out north of Skopje, Macedonia.
“We duly collected our race numbers and walked to the start area on the Sunday morning,” Brooks said. “On arrival, we were all handed a finisher's medal and told that the marathon had been canceled.”
Later that day, Brooks and a few friends on the trip with him were told police had been diverted away from directing traffic for the race to focus on the outbreaking of shots being fired in the country nestled between Albania and Bulgaria in eastern Europe and just south of Serbia.
Brooks said he plans to make a second attempt at running the Macedonian race.
But he’ll have to cross Louisiana Marathon’s finish line for his 400th race before moving on to what he says is hopefully next: competing in a marathon in all 13 Canadian provinces and territories.
“I just have Manitoba and Nunavut to go!” he said.