Despite a late-start to their running careers, Karen and Ron Berglund of Kingwood, Texas, are set to accomplish what few other single runners ever manage to do, let alone running couples.
On March 2, the Berglunds will run their 150th marathon together at The Woodlands Marathon in The Woodlands, Texas.
It’s a feat that is only more jaw-dropping when one considers the fact that Karen and Ron only started their running careers in 2004 at the ages of 53 and 57, respectively. At an age when most people are winding down to rest on their retirement laurels, the Berglunds were just starting out.
Over the last 15 years, they’ve endured the laundry list of God’s acts that most marathoners come to accept as baptisms—ice storms, searing heat waves (of Texas proportions), even a broken foot. Yes, Karen completed three marathons in a five-pound boot (think about that next time you “hit the wall”).
They’ve endured far greater struggles off the marathon course.
In August 2017, they watched in disbelief as the muddy waters of a San Jacinto tributary rose steadily up their lawn. Its approach grew stronger by the hour on the shoulders of Hurricane Harvey. Flood stage was 49 feet. The river fork rose to 69 feet. A short time later, they found themselves and their family on a rescue boat, taking them to safety as their house disappeared from view.
When they came back a few days later, most of their memories accumulated over the past 45 years were consigned to a trash heap.
Undeterred by loss, with a fuller appreciation of life and a goal of running their 145th marathon for their 45th wedding anniversary, they ran the Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota only a month later.
Their running careers began on a whim. Karen, a sixth-grade teacher at New Caney Middle School in Porter, Texas, was challenged when younger teachers and staff decided to train for the 2004 Houston Marathon. Most dropped out, but Karen finished. Ron, a professional engineer, was inspired by her effort and made a goal to run with her the next year. He had not run in 40 years.
Since then, they have run every Woodlands Marathon since its inception. They are also Houston Marathon Legacy runners, having completed every year of that race as well since they’ve begun. Running has taken them other places they’d never dreamed it would—from the top of Pike’s Peak to the far side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s even taken Karen to the top of podiums; in both 2012 and 2014, she grabbed the title of Female Senior Grand Master in the RRCA Texas State Marathon Championships.
Today, Karen and Ron are often lone wolves in many of the marathons they run. In their last marathon on February 7th, the Galveston Marathon, they both finished first in their age brackets. They were the only ones.
Ron has been dealing with knee and hamstring issues over the last year, but has had reasonable success in a rehab program, and was able to finish this past Houston Marathon just 7 seconds under the cutoff.
After finishing their 150th marathon at The Woodlands, they plan to continue their pursuit of the 50 States Marathon Challenge by their 50th wedding anniversary. It’s a task that is admittedly difficult (they had planned on retirement by now but are still working full-time). However, they are working with friends Paula and Steve Boone—organizers of the 50 States Marathon Club— to develop a schedule to at least get them close.
Something tells us they’ll get there. After all, everything is bigger in Texas. Even marathon goals.