51 Marathons: Now that’s Something to Talk About!

“Hill work is speed work in disguise,” said Paul Hines on Sunday, May 30 as he and a small entourage of runners slogged through the rain up Valley Green Road toward Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. This was one of the many pieces of running wisdom that Hines dispensed over the course of the 26.2 miles he ran this past weekend.

Hines, who has taught history and coached running at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy for 40 years, was quipping about hill work at the end of the nine-mile leg of the “Paul Hines Outpace Parkinson’s 3-in-1 Marathon,” a three-day running event organized to raise money for the Davis Phinney Foundation as well as to give Hines, 40-year veteran teacher and running coach at SCH Academy, the opportunity to run his 51st marathon. Hines had completed fifty marathons, including 21 Boston Marathons, prior to this past weekend, but he’d always known that he wanted to finish at least one more. His rationale: “Fifty is a boring number; fifty-one marathons, on the other hand; now that’s something to talk about.”

As you might expect of an elite long-distance runner, Hines possesses superior mental strength and stamina. He has, of course, deployed these superpowers as a middle school teacher and coach over his long career as an educator, and he has been honored many times by SCH Academy, as well as the larger Philadelphia athletic community for his accomplishments as a teacher, coach, and runner. He is an honorary alumnus of the Chestnut Hill Academy Class of 2003; in 2017 he was inducted into the City All-Star Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame; and most recently, SCH Academy named its track for Hines in 2019. 

Since his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease four years ago, Hines has needed to draw on his incredible inner strength to fight the disease tooth and nail. He has continued to run and train, and he’s added boxing and strength training to his routine, doing everything in his power to outpace Parkinson’s. A natural storyteller, Hines has also maintained his excellent sense of humor, which he uses to entertain and motivate his colleagues, students and runners. 

When the SCH Academy community learned about Hines’ quest to complete his 51st marathon, there was an outpouring of love and support. The community raised nearly $6000 for the Davis Phinney Foundation, and approximately 80 teachers, students, and alumni participated in pieces of the three-day marathon, which took place this past weekend. On Monday, May 31, Hines ran up the hill from the Valley Green Inn to the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy to complete the final mile of his 51st marathon, into a cheering throng that couldn't wait to high-five and hug him. As was tradition, afterward he sat down to drink a Coke while doling out little-known facts about the history of the track and talking over the race as he sipped with his friends.

 

Photo Caption:

Friends, former students, and current ones ran alongside Hines for a segment of his 51st marathon and then welcomed the long-distance hero back to the track which bears his name at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy's Maguire Stadium.

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