To call Jeff Goldstein a marathon man may be a bit inaccurate. True, when he ran his first race, a five-mile in 1987, he was hooked and ran his first Grandma’s Marathon that same year in Duluth. It is also true that Goldstein has run at least one marathon a year since then, but of the 113 events he has run to date, forty-two of them have been “ultra-marathons:” events with distances longer than 26.2 miles. Specifically, he has run fifteen 50K (31 miles), twenty 50-mile, two 100K (62 miles) and five 100-mile trail races. In the past ten years Goldstein has also run about 30 shorter distance races, including 5K, 10K, and half-marathons.
For a person with such an impressive resume, Goldstein is modest, “I’m not as fast [as] I was in my forties,” Goldstein says, “But I do okay. I’m an average, middle-of-the-pack runner. I have never won any race, however, the longer the distance and the harder the course, the better I seem to perform. I have finished as high as 6th at one of the 100 mile races I have done [finishing in 25 hrs, 56 minutes.]” That kind of performance demands a combination of three things, Goldstein says: training, mental discipline and innate aptitude. “When I started, I’d run six days a week, anywhere from 60-80 miles a week,” he says, “but now I average 35-40 miles a week training four to five days. One of the things I always try is to have one day a week I put forth optimum effort and try for ‘race speed.’” According to Goldstein, mentally knowing what it takes to get through the race is at least as important as getting the miles in. “I know how my body is going to react [on race day].” Goldstein credits “a natural competitiveness in the last few miles,” for helping him overtake as many competitors as possible. As for aptitude, Goldstein seems both mentally and physically suited for ultramarathons. Unlike some runners, he doesn’t rely on music to occupy his mind, preferring to tune in to his environment. “I always say hello to runners I meet on training runs and in races I try to strike up a conversation. My favorite runs are in the woods; I enjoy taking in my surroundings. It’s relaxing. It invigorates.” Physically, “I think I have a sturdy, dense skeletal frame. The Lord has given me a body capable of doing these long distances.”
Goldstein doesn’t just enjoy the events; he invites others to join in. His wife Lori, sister Julie and younger brother Russ have all run marathons with his support. Russ had long been interested in marathons, but it was Jeff who first persuaded him that he could do his first one, and in ‘98 they began running marathons together every year. At the Twin Cities Marathon in 1999, pain in his leg had Russ planning to quit at the first support station, but Jeff encouraged him by reminding him of the battle their mom had been fighting against cancer since ’92. “He saw how much pain I was in, and he stayed with me, even though I was limping at points. I was able to finish,” Russ says, despite the fact he was running on a fractured hip. “In 2005, Jeff inspired me to do a 50K in Bloomington. I had a blast; I never would have done it without him.”
Jeff runs five major events a season, but hasn’t done a “100 miler,” as he calls them, for a few years. He thinks maybe 2012 is the year. At age 55, he says, “I have no desire to retire at this time. I am like the Energizer bunny; I will do this as long as I can.”