Who is Sy Mah?

Last night was the Dave’s Marathon In Training‘s final track night of our training season. Completely bittersweet for me. I’m ready for the race to get here finally but I love speed work nights with my group.
We trained at Olander Park in Sylvania. The Mercy Health Glass City Marathon runs the loop around the park during mile 16. At the entrance of the park there is a statue of Sy Mah. Sy is also given recognition each year on the finisher mugs everyone receives at the finish line of each race.
F-Inqueue-SR-StoryArchive-lingemanstatue-jpgI had quite a few teammates question who Sy is and what does he have to do with the Glass City Marathon and Toledo community?

Sy Mah was an influential figure in the running boom of the 1970s. Mah was an assistant professor of physical education at the University of Toledo from 1970 to 1988. Mah did not start running marathons until he was 40, yet at the time of his death in 1988, Mah held the record for the most lifetime marathons at 524.

The Sy Mah Memorial Scholarship at the University of Toledo was established in 1990 by his friends and family with financial support from the Toledo Roadrunners Club. In addition to meeting various academic standards, qualified recipients within the College of Health Science and Human Service are required to be “avid social runners.”

Mah ran the Glass City Marathon several times, including at the inaugural event in 1971. Runners in the Glass City Marathon pass by a life-size statue of Mah in Olander Park. Mah is believed to have said, “I believe Americans have been brainwashed with the idea that they must do less because increased age will result in less energy and diminished capacity. I have found this is simply not true if a person does not allow his mind to accept the traditional view of aging.”

Kind of a Toledo legend and all-around bad ass!
Next time you visit Olander Park or when you run around the park during the marathon on Sunday, say hi to Sy Mah and think of the 524 marathons he ran before his death. Holy geez, think of the number of shoes he went through!


  1. Go Sy! What a great attitude on aging. I hope to be running for as long as he did!
    Lisa @ TechChick Adventures recently posted…Glass City Marathon – the countdown is on!My Profile

  2. Sy Mah was a great “health” educator! In the late “70s, he explained how health is affected by tobacco, lifestyle, diet, etc.
    These notions were fairly obsucure to most of us who grew up with parents who did 2-packs of smokes a day! He showed us films of people who could not run around the block because they were so out of shape. We viewed a film of runners with no feet…running on stumps, and runners with prosthetics. Then, were were expected to run a 12-minute mile (the Cooper Standard) to pass the 1.0 hour PE class at UT. We took surveys to predict our coronary outcomes, given family history and lifestyle. Most memorable, was when I lagged in running the 4-mile course on Brookside Blvd. Sy ran along me and the other skinny, non-athletes to encourge us to keep on going, although I thought my asthma-like lungs were going to explode…I made it and have a lifelong appreciation for Sy, he was a great role model and he praised me for my great diet and cholestrol levels..yes, we even did the fasting for the blood tests, Both of my parents suffered with coronary artery disease. Sy was a great educator who instilled in me a necessity to eat right, and stay active. And he had a great sense of humor…what a grat guy. (Note..at 60..no one believes I act or look my age..you are what you eat!)

  3. Opps, sorry for the spelling and grammar. My keyboard is skipping letters, could it be a virus? Yes, UT graduates are usually better with this stuff!

  4. My studies of Sy Mah, Guinness Book of Records holder for completing 524 marathons, presented for the first time, as a member of a North American Fitness delegation to China, presented in Canton in 1988, then published first in CHEST in 1990, then in Lancet in 1991, that extraordinary unremitting endurance exercise can injure a perfectly normal heart; this has been cited in the medical literature frequently; furthermore it led to my 25 year research study involving the cardiovascular hazards of space medicine; the mechanisms are virtually the same, namely that high adrenaline and very low magnesium levels with vicious cycles between the two, can injure the heart of an astronaut or a marathoner; keep in mind that the heart has no eyes. ( http://www.femsinspace.com)

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