A month before each race, he goes to bed every night after watching a video of the route. Trying to feel out the turns and understand as much of the 26 mile route as possible. He can’t memorize it all, but he tries his best.
His friends and family cheering him on, he trains and competes. Steven started running marathons after college. He ran track at Lafayette before graduating in 2009, when Steven went to college.
“In college I ran for exercise, I wasn’t competing,” he said.
But when he was dating his wife, she wanted to do a half marathon. He agreed to do it again and the journey began.
“I was like yeah, I’ll do it with you. I ran in high school. So I started running and training again and I did that half marathon when I was just out of college,” Steven said.
It sparked his love of running again and he took an interest in marathons, which seemed like the next step in his running career.
“I was like this is what you do when you get older,” Steven said. “There aren’t other races, there’s 5Ks and whatnot but the marathons are more fun and bigger events.”
He started out with the 2017 St. Louis marathon, which is considered a smaller marathon compared to the larger ones Steven set his sights on.
“I decided to do the 2017 St. Louis marathon because it’s a qualifier for the Boston Marathon,” Steven said. “It was very exciting; my first marathon and I got 3rd place. That’s where it all started.”
He wanted to compete with the pros, racing in the best marathons he qualified for.
“In most things in life I like to go big or go home. I want to do the big races, big vacations, big things. So I chose the biggest races to try and get into,” Steven said.
The biggest races are the six World Major Marathons, hosted by Abbot. Each race is considered a star, and once all six are completed, racers earn a special medal.
“Right now I have five of my six stars. I have Chicago, New York, Boston, Tokyo and Berlin done. Hopefully, April 2024 will be my 6th star [in London],” he said.
Although finishing his stars won’t be the end of his running career, training has taken a toll on Steven. He’s currently in grad school and has two young children, meaning training can’t be his sole focus.
“I’m very hopeful that in April 2024, we get it done. Because training constantly is hard. Things are a lot, so constantly running 100 miles a week is exhausting,” Steven said.
Even though it can be exhausting, Steven continues to love running.
“Everyone has their escape,” he said. “Some people will draw, some people will walk, some people will play any sport and activity that takes your mind off of stresses, off that normal, daily routine. That’s running for me.”
It’s become such a huge part of his life that he can’t miss his daily run.
“If I don’t run on Saturday morning, I’m crabby all day. My wife will make me get my run in because after that I’m chill,” Steven said.
He even runs with his two-and-a-half-year-old son, Izzak. His wife, Courtney Stallis, said Izzak enjoys the runs and she’s impressed by how Steven manages to fit in his training.
“His longest run pushing the stroller was 19 miles,” Courtney said. “Izzak loves it, he asks to go run with Daddy all the time.”
His wife and family are a huge part of why he’s able to race in marathons and he said his wife has been to all of his World Major races except Chicago, which he went to with math teacher Sean O’Conner.
Steven has been able to turn each race into an opportunity for a vacation and he appreciates getting the push to try new experiences.
“I mean it’s a great excuse to travel the world,” he said. “You could say your whole life, I want to go to Tokyo, but when are you actually going to sit down and say, ‘I’m going to Tokyo?’”