How an OHM Charity Team Member finished a 300+ mile race!

Throughout the year, Open Heart Magic will be spotlighting members of our charity team, from first timers who never thought they could run a race to seasoned vets who cruise through the marathon year after year. We are proud to call Bruce one of our team members, but we aren’t sure how to classify him. Hero? Superhuman? We’ll let you decide for yourself.

If you resolved to run 300 miles to get in shape for 2014, how long do you think it would take? 3 months? 6 months? OHM Charity Team member Sung Ho Choi managed to check that off the list in just 4 days last year. Read on to see how he managed to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of running the Last Annual Vol State 500k.

Although originally from Korea, Sung Ho Choi, known to friends as Bruce, considers Chicago one of his homes. At the age of 11 he moved to the U.S. where he and his family laid down roots in Chicago. Through hard work and endless miles, he went from a chubby teen to a man who’s run well over 100 marathons and 35 ultra races including the Vol State 500k.

If you’re not familiar with the Last Annual Vol State 500k, you aren’t alone. Not many people have heard of the loosely organized event that covers 314 miles, all but a handful of which are in Tennessee. Few would ever consider running in such a grueling event, and fewer still have the stamina and fortitude to actually run it competitively.

The race features none of the simple pleasures we measly 26-milers take for granted along the Chicago Marathon route. There are neither aid stations taping sore knees nor flocks of volunteers ensuring everyone gets a drink of water each mile. Bands aren’t lining the streets to provide 40 seconds of entertainment every 10 minutes, and you certainly won’t see a guy dribbling basketballs. For the most part, it’s just a runner alone with his thoughts and demons…and a little help from his support squad.

How could one possibly prepare for a 314 mile race? For Bruce, an average week consists of 50-100 miles of running accompanied by stair master, cardio exercises, weight training, and a lot of eating. His family frequently joins him for runs and workouts, which tend to be broken up throughout the day. He even manages to log miles during breaks at work. So much for chatting around the water cooler! As you can imagine, his training takes a significant amount of time and requires incredible dedication and consistency.

His reward for all of that incredible effort was a remarkable 3rd place finish and final race time of 4:13:39:52. Yes, that first digit represents the number of days! It’s hard to fully grasp the time and distance Bruce covered when looking at it as one chuck of mileage. Instead, think of waking early up Monday morning in Missouri and going out for a run. Now don’t stop running except for rest/sleep until your reach happy hour in Georgia on Friday night.

Most of us would never run again after that, but Bruce quickly turned his attention to the Chicago Marathon. It was his very first race back when he was 21 and is one he runs every year with great pride. The 2013 Chicago Marathon marked his 15th year of participating in the race, and that’s why he chose to partner with OHM to raise money for the kids! He is always bringing smiles and laughter to friends and fellow runners, so it seemed only appropriate to work with a charity with the same ideals!

We are truly honored to have Bruce as a member of the Open Heart Magic Charity Team. He serves as a constant inspiration to experienced and new runners alike. His philosophy that what you put into running is what you get out is shared by all those on the team who have set a goal and are now focused on reaching it.

Fast Facts:

  • Number of marathons: 100+
  • # of Chi/Boston marathons: 15/10
  • Fastest marathon: 2:55
  • Number of ultra races: 35
  • Fastest 100 mile race: 16:43

I don’t even know which of those figures is most impressive. They’re all mind blowing. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention some of the running groups that have helped Bruce accomplish such amazing feats. A big thank you from OHM goes to Jacksonville Running Co.,  110% Play Harder, Nathan Performance, and First Place Sports.