Vendée. At 72, Daniel ran his 42nd marathon: “I had so many emotions”


Maxime Pernet

Published on

May 22, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.

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Some people never finish a single marathon in their life, others made it a religion. Daniel Thomas is definitely one of the latter.

On April 7, t-shirt flocked with the colors of France on the back and supported by his eldest son Sylvain, he finished his 42e marathon.

42 finishes on the legendary 42 km event. “People saw us, with our t-shirts and my white hair, and there were lots of people applauding us. The children held out their hands to be slapped. It was really a special moment. For once, I wasn’t looking at my time. I was enjoying“, he says, with a smile on his face.

Daniel Thomas, with the medal from his first marathon, in 1999, and his last, in 2024. ©Journal des Sables

A beginning almost by chance

A beautiful story, for Daniel’s self-sacrifice, but also when we know thatit could never have been written like this. This inhabitant of Sables-d’Olonne, whom many surely knew as being their general practitionertook up running rather late.

“For 20 years I played football. You have to be honest, I was mediocre,” he says frankly. And to continue: “One day, I made a cruciate ligament rupture. I could no longer continue playing football. I was thinking about having surgery when patients started telling me about the errands they were doing with the Sablais jogging club ». Before going to the surgeon’s box, he goes there, to discover. “I immediately liked the good atmosphere, it was very friendly”

“I burst into tears”

So much so that shortly after, in 1999here he is already on his first marathon, that of Paris, to try as best we can to overcome the wall that this distance represents. “The last few kilometers were tough. When I crossed the finish line, I burst into tears. It was so exhilarating, I had so many emotions,” Daniel recounts, his memories intact as if it were yesterday.

Tracked by Chinese police

But 25 years have passed in the meantime. His sneakers have never failed him (and he still hasn’t been on the operating table). Training included, he traveled more than 60,000 km. One and a half times around the Earth. Suffice to say that around the globe, he has experienced unusual moments, which are part of the atmosphere and folklore of the marathon. Mutual aid with those who are at their ends, and others, more unusual.

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Daniel Thomas, during the Beijing marathon, in October 2007. ©DR

” During the Beijing marathonas a foreigner, I was followed all along by, I think, the police. I had spotted them. When I accelerated, they accelerated, when I slowed down the same, when I stopped for a bathroom break they looked at me“, reports Daniel, hilarious.

The race to escape

Fortunately, our Sablais was not suspicious enough and he was able to continue his line of marathons: London, Berlin, New York, Budapest are among the medals that he now carefully keeps at home.

Fascinating to see that despite the weather, he still has the same passion for racing, for this special atmosphere that reigns on the asphalt. For the well-being that the four training sessions per week necessary to prepare the body also bring. “We sometimes see difficult cases as a doctor. I needed to relax after work. When I run, I think of something else,” he explains.

The road is not over

He says, everyone was a pleasure. “At the beginning I ran to improve my time. Then I said to myself that it would be nice to push to 42e“. Her family accompanied her on each new challenge. Not always easy, but it also allowed them to discover lots of places together that they would probably never have gone to. Moreover, some of his children have also caught the virus. A family matter.

The 42e Once the marathon is over, the question of what to do next arises. “I will surely continue, but on shorter distances like the 10 km. Or even on half-marathons, which he refused for a long time out of a desire “not to do things by halves”. What do you want. Some people have it in their blood.

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