Gene Dykes, 71, is a marked man. Still considered the most likely to take down Ed Whitlock’s M70 marathon world record of 2:54:48, he wasn’t able to do it this year due to illness and injury, but he plans to try again at the Chicago Marathon in 2020.
Dykes still had an incredible year, breaking both his own Boston age-group record (and going sub-3) as well as the U.S. M70 records in the 100-mile and 24-hours. In the process he raced in some spectacular places. Here’s a sampling of his photos from those races.
The “#UltraGeezer’s” plans for 2020 include a 100-miler, two 200-milers, three “very competitive marathons,” including the Boston/London double just six days apart. Dykes plans to win his age group at both but also says he might go for the record at London. Chicago is the main target for the serious attempt on Whitlock’s record. He is also planning a few marathons and a 50K with his daughters, Erica and Hilary, and some fun runs with friends. Altogether: about 35 races in five countries, including six marathons, six ultras, and numerous other shorter distances, some competitive and some just for fun.
Dykes will visit Toronto for the World Masters Athletics Championships in July 2020, racing the cross-country, 5K, 10K, steeplechase and/or the half-marathon. “I may run the 1,500 meter just for fun,” he says on his Facebook page. “The competition in that event is really fierce.”
Regarding the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, where Dykes came within 30 seconds of Whitlock’s record in 2018, he says, “Toronto is a sad omission, but I’d really like my next appearance there to be going after Ed’s age 73 mark of 2:54:48, regardless of whether I beat it elsewhere in 2020.” Dykes will be racing Chicago with his daughter.
Dykes concludes: “I reserve the right to add and delete races from this list for any reason whatsoever!”
A year ago, Dykes beat Whitlock’s record at the Jacksonville Marathon in Florida, but later learned the race was not USATF sanctioned and the record could not be ratified.
You’ll notice that Dykes often appears in pictures at road races looking intense and pushing hard, and at trail races looking relaxed and posing for the camera next to a scenic lookout. That’s because his running philosophy is to race on the roads for competition, and on the trails for the scenery. However in spite of racing to a 3:11 finish to win his age group at New York this year, he couldn’t resist stopping to take this photo from the Verrazano-Narrows bridge:
We very much admire Dykes’s extensive collection of calf sleeves.