When Steve Bock of Manhasset registered for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, he didn’t expect a New York City Marathon slot to open up for the next day.
Bock, 56, began running marathons in 2008 when fellow members of the Shelter Rock Church of Manhasset mentioned they were training for the Chicago Marathon for World Vision, a nonprofit organization focused on eradicating poverty and bringing clean water to villages in Africa. Bock has run all 10 marathons as fundraisers for World Vision.
“I had never run long distances before,” Bock said. “I was an intermittent short-distance runner, three miles here, four miles there, but I became a long-distance runner training for the Chicago Marathon.”
After his initial marathon, Bock fell in love with the process, running two more marathons in 2009, including the New York City Marathon in four hours and four minutes, followed by two more in 2010 with the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., and the Chicago Marathon for a third time.
In 2012, Bock hit his fastest recorded time of three hours and 58 minutes in the Long Island Marathon before taking two years off following knee surgery in March 2013. Bock said the surgery was for a non-running injury to his knee and he began slowly training again in early 2014 before the Philadelphia Marathon in four hours flat in 2015 and the Marine Corps Marathon again in 2016.
Bock also runs half-marathons between the full 26.2-mile races, including the Brooklyn Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon this year, which compelled him to sign up for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.
While training the group of about 30 people on the World Vision team for the Brooklyn race in July, Bock decided he wanted to run a marathon this fall and registered for the Monumental Marathon to help complete his goal of running a marathon in every state.
In mid-September, however, World Vision said a slot for its team had suddenly become available for the New York City Marathon.
“World Vision contacted me and said, ‘We have a team of 50 people running in New York but one had to drop out. Do you want the slot?’” Bock said. “I carefully contemplated it for about 10 seconds and said yes.”
World Vision officials said the double marathon weekend would be good training if Bock ever wanted to run the Comrades Marathon, one of the oldest ultramarathons in the world set in South Africa clocking in around 56 miles. Runners have 12 hours to complete the race, though record-holders boast times of five hours and 18 minutes for men and five hours and 54 minutes for women.
After the addition to his calendar, Bock said he began to increase his training regimen.
“I ran long with my group on Saturdays and additional miles on my own,” Bock said. “I would then turn around and run long on Sunday. If I did 20 on Saturday, I did 10 on Sunday until I gradually got to the point where I was running 21 [miles] and 19 [miles] back-to-back as my top training run.”
Bock finished the Monumental Marathon in four hours and 11 minutes and said he was slightly disappointed in his time, which was increased due to leg cramps and lack of hydration.
“It was a really pretty run,” Bock said. “It was scenic and mostly flat, which was nice. I wish I’d had better legs that day because I was hoping to break four hours, but my legs just didn’t have it. Some days are good, and some days arent’t.”
Bock flew home the same night, snagging a few McDonald’s burgers at the airport, which he admitted was not an ideal pre-marathon dinner but he took food where he could find it. He met the World Vision team members in Manhattan Sunday morning and took the ferry to Staten Island for the run, starting in the fourth wave at 11 a.m.
Bock said his wife, Judy Chin-Bock, was cheering him on along the course as well as his brother and sister-in-law. He finished the New York City Marathon in four hours and 19 minutes.
Bock said he is considering taking on the Comrades Race, and World Vision has extended an invitation to join its team in the 2018. Bock and his family sponsor a child in Niger and would greatly like to meet them as well as visit some of the World Vision project sites to see the work he’s helping fund first-hand.
Bock also said he would love to run the other major marathons in Tokyo, Berlin and London as well as the Great Wall Marathon involving climbing more than 5,000 steps up the Great Wall.