Mark Godale, one of the most accomplished and respected ultrarunners in the history of the sport, passed away suddenly on June 13, 2022, at the age of 51. The cause of death was reportedly a blood clot, according to his mother. Godale was a national champion, an American record holder, and a world-class competitor who represented the USA at several international events. He was also a talented art director, a devoted husband and father, and a friend to many in the running community. In this article, we will look back at his remarkable life and career, and pay tribute to his legacy.
Early Years and Marathon Debut
Godale was born on June 14, 1970, in Ohio, where he grew up running in junior high, high school, and college. He attended the University of Akron, where he ran cross country and track, and graduated in 1994 with a degree in graphic design. He was a fast runner, with personal bests of 15:27 for 5K and 2:47 for the marathon.
Godale ran his first marathon in 1990, when he was a freshman in college. He challenged a friend to run a 10K, and said he would run a marathon the same day. He finished in 3:17, and was hooked on long-distance running. He ran several more marathons over the next few years, improving his time and placing high in various races. He ran the Boston Marathon for the first time in 1994, finishing in 2:52.
Ultrarunning Breakthrough and Success
Godale ventured into the world of ultrarunning in 1994, when he was 24 years old. He ran his first 50K at the Buckeye Trail 50K in Ohio, and won the race in 5:12. He would go on to run that race eleven times, winning five times and setting a course record of 3:56.
Godale ran his first 100-miler in 1995, at the Mohican 100 in Ohio. He had never run a 50-miler before, but he was allowed to register based on his impressive performance at the Buckeye Trail 50K. He ran a stunning race, finishing second in 18:24, which was nearly ten minutes faster than the previous course record. He was only beaten by Eric Clifton, who set a new record of 16:48. Godale’s brother Stephen also ran the race, and finished ninth in 21:15.
Godale continued to run ultras throughout the 1990s and 2000s, competing in some of the most prestigious and challenging races in the country and the world. He ran the Western States 100, the Leadville Trail 100, the Badwater 135, the Spartathlon, the Comrades Marathon, and many more. He won several national titles, including the USATF 100K Road Championship in 1999 and 2000, and the USATF 24-Hour Track Championship in 2001. He also set an American record for 24 hours on the track, running 162.46 miles in 2001. He represented the USA at the World 100K Championships six times, and at the World 24-Hour Championships four times. He was ranked among the top ultrarunners in the world by Ultrarunning Magazine several times, and was inducted into the American Ultrarunning Hall of Fame in 2018.
Personal Life and Final Years
Godale was not only a great runner, but also a great person. He was a talented art director, working for various companies and agencies in Ohio. He was a loving husband to his wife Amy, whom he married in 1997, and a proud father to his two sons, Tyler and Ryan. He was a generous and supportive friend to many runners, offering advice, encouragement, and inspiration. He was also a humble and gracious person, who never boasted about his achievements or complained about his challenges.
Godale faced some health issues and injuries in his later years, which limited his running and racing. He suffered from pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots in the lungs, after a surgery in 2015, and had to spend some time in the hospital. He also dealt with chronic plantar fasciitis, which hampered his training and performance. Despite these setbacks, he never gave up on his passion for running, and continued to run marathons and shorter races. He ran the Boston Marathon every year from 1994 to 2022, completing it 29 times. His last race was the Boston Marathon in April 2022, where he ran 3:28.
Godale died unexpectedly on June 13, 2022, just one day before his 52nd birthday. The cause of death was reportedly a blood clot, according to his mother. His death shocked and saddened the running community, who mourned the loss of one of the legends of the sport. Many runners and friends shared their memories and condolences on social media, and paid tribute to his life and legacy.
Mark Godale was a remarkable runner and a remarkable person. He achieved incredible feats in the sport of ultrarunning, and inspired countless others with his dedication, perseverance, and joy. He was also a kind, generous, and humble person, who loved his family and friends, and lived his life with passion and purpose. He will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. He will always be remembered as an ultrarunning legend.