BENTON - Five years ago Jason Darnall was running laps around the neighborhood.
Today, he’s set to be running miles around the world.
It’s quite an accomplishment for someone who freely admits, he’s not always been a runner.
But not only is Darnall going the distance these days, he’s beating out the competition – finishing first out of all 215 Kentucky runners in last week’s Chicago Marathon.
Darnall finished 612th overall in preliminary results, out of the 37,419 other runners representing all 50 states and 100 countries around the world.
In addition to those accomplishments, victory likely felt a little sweeter this time around, as Darnall improved his time by nearly an hour over his Boston Marathon time in April.
“There were two big differences in Chicago,” he notes, “better weather and flatter ground.”
In fact, Chicago’s marathon was nearly 40 degrees cooler than Boston, conditions that helped Darnall come in with an impressive run time under three hours (2:56:36), something he says statistically is only achieved by 1.5 to 2 percent of all marathon runners.
“I remember hearing that statistic and thinking that I wanted to try to beat it,” Darnall recalls. “I started running longer and faster, usually two to three times per-week,” typically 20-miles plus on the weekends. “I was hoping if I could run it in hot and hilly conditions, I could run it where it was cool and flat.”
With cooperative weather, Darnall accomplished his goal, leaving him to set his sights on the next big challenge – the Virgin London Marathon.
“I’ve never been over the pond but my wife has a few times when she was studying abroad in school,” he said of the couple’s next adventure.
“We are really looking forward to going – my mom and dad have never been so we are going to make a vacation out of it.”
While qualifying times are not a factor in being able to participate in the overseas run, qualifying for a charity is.
Having never been considered an asset before, Darnall’s lifelong battle with asthma might have just given him a leg up.
The group Asthma UK has selected Darnall to run for their cause, offering him the opportunity to once again earn a coveted position in a race, all while helping a worthy cause.
Also entering through a charity sponsorship for the Boston Marathon, Darnall and his family raised some $5,000 in funds for breast cancer research.
Jokingly, he says another jumbo cupcake fundraiser is likely to soon be in the works.
As to how far he plans to go on with his marathon endeavors, Darnall says he wants to complete the World Marathon Majors, which is a championship-style competition for marathon runners that comprises five annual races in the cities of Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, and New York City.
With two under his belt, there are just three to go.
Darnall said after London, he will be trying for a coveted spot in the New York City marathon, then Berlin – vice-versa if he cannot secure a spot in New York, the most difficult to gain entry to.
What else is on the Bucket List for the 35 year old? “Another Boston run or possibly a 100-mile race,” he says as if it were as casual as taking a leisurely stroll in the park, already having completed a 50-mile run in Nashville.
As to what motivates him to put his body through what many would consider to be torture, Darnall confesses that while his distance running started with a 100-mile monthly goal for the county’s wellness program, today, it’s all about the adrenaline.
“The first time you come close to crossing that finish line and you hear people calling your name and cheering you on, you’re addicted."
Editor's Note: Darnall serves as the Assistant County Attorney and is a partner in the private practice Blankenship, Edwards & Darnall.
He also uses his running talents to also raise funds locally each year at the Marshall County Relay for Life event.