Burien Woman Bit By Marathon Bug, Runs One A Week For Full Year

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by Rachel M. Lusby

Burien resident Tamara Mackey is not only a strong and active member of the business community, she is also an avid marathon and half marathon “fanatic” who ran 52 half-marathons in 52 weeks.

That’s right – she ran one every single week for an entire year.

Mackey belongs to groups called the “Half Fanatics” and “Marathon Maniacs,” however she has not always been such a participant in any athletics.

In high school, Mackey says, she did not participate in any sports and even had physical education waived.

“I hated running,” she says.

After college, though, Mackey joined a gym and later started going to the YMCA. There, she says, they were looking for someone to be a cycling instructor and she told them she thought she could do that.

She has been a cycling instructor at the YMCA for 9 years now.

"I hated running," Tamara once said. Now look at her.

Mackey claims she has no idea what really inspired her to begin running races – in 2002, she decided she wanted to do a triathlon. She had never run before, and was about to run three miles, plus swim and bike.

The other hurdle was she could not swim, and was also so afraid of water, she didn’t even want to put her face in it.

She says she figured she could just doggy-paddle through that part of the race. By mistake, however, she grabbed the “elite skincap” which put her in place with the more advanced swimmers. She was bolted where she stood on shore, completely afraid.

The “swim angel” asked her what was wrong, and she said she was terrified. This “swim angel” got in the water with her and they swam along to the other side.

Since then, Mackey has participated in other triathlons, such as the SeaFair Triathlon, and can now swim; she even puts her head under the water.

“It completely overwhelmed my fear,” Mackey said about her first triathlon.

In 2002, Mackey then got into half marathons, joining a club called “Half Fanatics.” Half marathons are 13.1 miles long. Half Fanatics is an online club, found at www.halffanatics.com, and includes goals for runners to reach.

Mackey was the first half fanatic to reach the highest goal, which is 52 half marathons in 52 weeks; her photograph can be found on the website.

Since completing this goal, she has also begun running full marathons, which are 26.5 miles; she has ran 23 of these thus far.

It isn’t as easy as it may sound, according to Mackey, to complete or even get out of bed to participate in these events.

After her first marathon, Mackey was thinking she never wanted to do one again.

Tamara's next goal is to be named "Half Fanatic of the Year." Some think she may be a "full" one.

“It was a miserable experience,” she says. “I thought, ‘I am never going to do this again!’”

Now, she has intentions of doing one in every state.

Another difficult part of being a marathon runner is finding half marathons or full marathons which meet the required logistics of her clubs. This is why she does a lot of travelling to other states and Canada to meet her marathon goals.

The hardest part of all, however, is not the will to run but the means to do so. Each race costs money; money to participate, money to travel, money to have the appropriate attire.

“I try to stay with friends and family,” says Mackey. She also adds that she has stayed with those who her friends and family have connections to; strangers to her.

Mackey says if anyone has connections throughout the country, to please shoot her an email at [email protected]. She would also like to talk to anyone looking for a running partner.

Her next goal is to be named “Half Fanatic of the Year” in which she will have to participate in three half marathons a month by the end of the year to achieve.

Mackey says she has people tell her all the time that she is “insane” and many who are not into athletics believe she is “excessive,” however she does not believe so. She runs Tuesdays and weekends, while the more “hardcore” marathoners run about 40 miles a week.

Mackey is local to Burien and is on the membership committee for Discover Burien and is also an ambassador for the Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce. In addition to her duties there, she works full time for Heartland Payment Systems.

Here’s a Photo Slideshow that captures some of Tamara’s experiences over the last year:

Click to Play
Click to Play Tamara Mackey’s Photo Slideshow

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3 Responses to “Burien Woman Bit By Marathon Bug, Runs One A Week For Full Year”
  1. Lori Alden says:

    You’re AMAZING Tamara! I am inspired!

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  2. Colleen says:

    Happy to say, friend of mine. Good job Tamara, go Pirates!!!

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  3. Running, working, networking…you truly are amazing, Tamara!!!

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