By Dean The Sportsman” Greenaway
Philomena “Philo” Robertson would be the first to tell you she’s not the prototype Marathoner. But, her action is one of determination.
Robertson said it hasn’t been easy for her since she’s not like the typical lanky distance runner with not much body weight and she’s well endowed.
“I have a big body and carry a lot of bodyweight around so I think that makes the journey harder,” she said. “But, I’m just focused and determined on getting to the finish line once I start and that’s the mission and I always get it done.”
In November 2015, the Grenada native started on a journey to initially complete six Marathons in six Months, but reached her goal in five. After reaching her goal, she though that she could do 12 Marathons in 12 months.
“Within that 12-months period, I completed 15 Marathons,” Robertson noted. “In looking for races along the way, I came across the World Marathon Majors—a series of six Marathons run in cities across the world, like London, Boston, Chicago, New York, Tokyo and Berlin. I’ve done New York on a couple of occasions, so I’ve accomplished that. I thought that if I’ve done New York, I can get around to the other cities. I’m heading to Chicago later this year, I applied for the lottery and thankfully, I got in. I applied to London for 2017, didn’t get in but I’ve already applied for 2018 and hopefully, I’ll get in.”
Noting it’s an expensive journey, Robertson said she doesn’t know how long it will take, but it’s a dream after having done so many Marathons in the past year. “It’s my next mission,” she said.
Robertson ran her first Marathon in 2011, something she did by chance she said, after reading about a Chicago firefighter, who ran the Chicago Marathon for a charity and thought it was a good concept. She spurred into action, researched if any Marathons are affiliated with any charities in her native Grenada and found Reach Within, a charity that works with disadvantages children.
New York Marathon had spots available and she connected with the charity and began her Marathon sojourn. “Mind you, this was four weeks before New York, my lonest distance was a Half Marathon and it wasn’t like I’d done one recently,” she noted. “But, I was up for the challenge, signed up and started raising funds. The support wasn’t that great, but was able to raise a couple hundred dollars for the initiative and was happy for that.”
Her goal was 4 hours and 30 minutes and she ran 4:38. “Years later, I’m still knocking myself for those eight minutes, but, I went out and did it,” she said. “It was hard. It was painful and at the finish line, my body hurt but at the same time, I was like ‘I did this. I wanna do it again.’”
Hurricane Sandy wiped out her New York Marathon plans in 2012 and she didn’t run in 2013, but has competed each of the last three years, all in support of Reach Within.
So far since 2011, she has completed 18 Marathons including the 15 between November 2015 and November 2016. “I’m looking of that 20th Marathon,” she said.
She has since become a Gold Member of the Marathon Maniacs Club, on the basis of three Marathons within 90 days and recently joined the Half Fanatics Club, when she completed the Conquer the Wall Half Marathon in Beijing, China on May 13 and on May 27, the the Virgin Gorda Half Marathon, all within 16 days.
Completing a Marathon Robertson said, is a journey.
“You go through a range of emotions,” she pointed out. “Most of the Marathon’s I’ve done are pretty big races. New York, 50,000, Miami, 25,000+ so there’s just a lot of people, a lot of energy at the start, the adrenaline is flowing and you’re all excited. So the first couple of miles, you’re running on that adrenaline. And then, probably about the half way point, you start thinking ‘what the hell am I doing out here.’ One of my favorite things is, who moved the finish line. Because you’re endlessly running and running and you can’t be done.”
She added: “You’re just going nonstop, it’s just mile after mile after mile. But, it’s endurance, not just physically, but mentally. It becomes a mental battle at some point during the race, because your body can take you so far, but there comes a point when you have to just focus and know that each additional step is going to take you there.”