Ray Lim only got into running when he was 56 but has already reached a milestone that few others can say they have accomplished in a lifetime. The 68-year-old from Markham, Ont. ran his 150th marathon on May 1 at the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon. That’s a lot of marathons to keep a tally of. (Though not quite as many as this man who has completed over 550 of them.)
“I keep an ongoing record of every marathon I run,” says Lim. “I also keep another file with more information on each marathon and a trip report on destination marathons.”
Lim has completed a marathon in all 50 U.S. states as well as in the District of Columbia. His first American marathon was the St. Jude Memphis Marathon (Tennessee) in 2004 and he completed the circuit at the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii on Dec. 11, 2011. For his efforts, Lim was awarded a plaque from the 50 States Marathon Club.
Appropriately, Lim’s race number for the Toronto Marathon was 150. He turned 68 on Mother’s Day.
According to Lim, he is the ninth Canadian to have run a marathon in all 50 states (per the 50 States Marathon Club records) and the sixth among those to have completed more than 100 marathons. In addition to his U.S. travels, he’s run a marathon in every Canadian province, Germany, Antarctica, Japan, Chile and Jamaica.
Lim recalls his most memorable race, the 2006 Disney World Half-Marathon in Orlando, where he ran with his two daughters, Andrea and Victoria.
“Apart from the ‘magical’ experience of running through the theme parks, observing the swings going and the music playing, I will always remember approaching the finish line hand in hand with my daughters,” says Lim when talking about the Disney race. “The PA announcer, instead of calling out our names and the city where we live, as is customary for each runner, said ‘here comes team Canada.’ This inspired me for the next day as I ran the Disney marathon to complete the inaugural Walt Disney World Goofy challenge.” For him that was marathon number 16. The Goofy challenge he refers to is when a runner completes both the half and full marathon on consecutive days of the race weekend.
Lim got into running thanks to his daughters Andrea and Victoria. He ran with them to make sure that the two met the fitness requirement for a black belt in karate. His first-ever marathon was in Ottawa in 2004 and he has since averaged more than 12 races per year.
The now-retired father, who spent 42 years in the pharmaceutical industry in research and development, helps coach at the local Markham Running Room to help motivate others who get into the sport. Lim runs an average of 40 to 50 kilometres per week, spread across three or four days. This is a routine he holds after coming back from 50 or 60 kilometres weeks as he did in previous years.
In terms of his most memorable marathon, Lim points to the Yakima Canyon River Marathon in 2011, which took place in Ellensburg, Wash. Because Lim keeps such a detailed log of his races, he’s able to recite (to the most minute of details) each aspect of the races he has done.
“The start was on a two-lane canyon road in Ellensburg,” describes Lim. “The temperature was 45 degrees rising later to 55 degrees. The scenery was breathtaking and apart from the three hills where the course pulls away from the water, the river was your companion. The walls of the desert canyon shoot up at 45 degrees approximately 1,500 feet above the river. Above, there was a small rock-slide caused by bighorn sheep. The course was closed, so apart from the aid stations staffed by wonderful people, there were no spectators, only other runners. This race had majestic views that created a mood of serenity. It did not matter that there were so few fans as the scenery was all you needed.”
Still, after reaching the 50, 100 and 150-race milestone, Lim continues to learn new aspects of running each time he completes a marathon.
“The one thing that resonates with me after every marathon,” explains Lim, “is the realization and reminder that completing a marathon at any speed is a significant accomplishment and it takes on more significance and is especially true as you get older.”