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The fun story behind the man who ran a 2:35 Boston Marathon in plaid

Sporting a lumberjack look at the 2017 Boston Marathon, Alaska's Jacob Kirk broke 2:36 while wearing a plaid top.

Jacob Kirk
Jacob Kirk
Plaided Jacob Kirk at the finish of the 2017 Boston Marathon. Photo: Michael Doyle.

Jacob Kirk ran one of the more impressive Boston Marathons in 2017 because of his rather unusual attire choice: a plaid top. (Cue the chafing comments.)

The eye-catching attire did not seem to slow Kirk much, however, as he ran 2:35:49 at the Hopkinton, Mass. to Boston race. In 25 C heat, he placed 105th overall (93rd among men), and got through the final 13K thanks to the crowd’s support.

Kirk, 24, began wearing plaid for races the year after graduating from Montana State University where he was a varsity distance runner. “I’m happy for all the racing and life lessons I got from there; however, running [at collegiate level] burnt me out,” he says. Racing wasn’t as joyful as it once was. He found a solution: run in a plaid Kühl shirt, to which he immediately received “confused looks.”

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The priceless reactions he got wearing the plaid led Kirk to begin racing in the attire and when the going gets tough, he recalls that he’s out running for the love of the sport. Somewhat surprisingly, Kirk says that chafing is “non-existent,” as the shirt is a polyester mix though it may not be designed specifically for marathon running. Running can be “real tough at times in a shirt like that,” he says.

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It was the second consecutive year that the Anchorage, Alaska native ran Boston in plaid. In 2016, Kirk ran an impressive 2:37:26 before improving approximately 90 seconds in 2017 at the race held annually on Patriots’ Day.

2016 action shot


This year, he received considerable attention from the Boston faithful, in part because of the plaid, but also because he was sporting a lumberjack-like mustache. Kirk sported split shorts and wore a Garmin to round out his 2017 racing gear.

Crowd reactions

“OMG (Oh my God) Alaskan singlet and plaid shirt guy, awesome! And they both have staches!”

Fan: “Hey [bib] 280 I love the shirt!”
Kirk: “Hey I love you.”
Fan: “What?! I love you too.”

Fan (at mile 22): “A plaid shirt you’ve got to be kidding me.”
Kirk: “Does it look like I’m kidding?”

“Holy smokes. Dude! It’s plaid shirt guy again”

“Dude, you sir are the best dressed fellow out here. Cheers”
Tips Gatorade cup towards him.

“Go plaid!”

“Yeah flannel!”