26 Days, 26 Marathons, No Sweat

Dave Carlsson and Jason Lester are running 26 marathons in 26 days at Ala Moana Beach Park, and feeding the homeless there too. Leah Friel photo lfriel@midweek.com

For the month of December, Dave Carlsson, 48, and Jason Lester, 38, are running 26 marathons in 26 consecutive days.

Yes, you read that correctly. But there’s a lot more to this story than just a lot of running.

It all started as a winter training challenge for Carlsson, an avid runner and coach who has completed nearly 100 marathons and is a top finisher at many local races. He also is the founder of the Hawaii Running Project, aimed at improving the overall health of the state of Hawaii and reducing the obesity of its residents by creating running programs that are available to everyone.

Lester, a Nike ultra endurance athlete and ESPY award-winner for Best Male Athlete with a Disability, joins Carlsson as a way to return the support as Carlsson is his crew chief at many of his races. Lester also is preparing for a triple Ironman on Dec. 29, and plans to do 30 Ironmans in 30 consecutive days next year.

The pair meet at the entrance of the Magic Island parking lot at 4 p.m. every day. But they don’t just lace up and take off. Their first hour is spent feeding the homeless in the park. Through food and monetary donations, including food from Aloha Harvest, they deliver meals to homeless camps throughout the park, feeding about 40 people a day, including children.

Then they begin their 26 mile trek of 10 loops around Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island, finishing at around 10 p.m.

They also are planning a toy drive Dec. 23 and 24 from 3 to 5 p.m., and on Christmas Day will hold a luncheon at the park with toys for kids at 2 p.m.

“This has grown into more than just feeding,” says Lester. “It’s interacting with them and inspiring them with what we’re doing. We tell them we want them to run with us.” As for the physical challenges of running 26 miles for 26 consecutive days, Carlsson and Lester, who are both vegans, say it’s about rest and recovery. At the chilly 11th hour of the night, they’re in an ice bath speeding up the recovery process so they can do it all again the next day.

Anyone is invited to join them on their runs. For more information, visit 26×26.info