At the Suffolk County Marathon on Sunday, hundreds of runners will gather behind the starting line with pre-race jitters. But not Chris Boundy.
The Commack Middle School teacher has crossed 99 finish lines already and plans to complete his hundredth marathon this weekend in Patchogue.
The eighth grade social studies teacher has been running marathons since 2005 and is “addicted” to the challenge, he said. And he has become a role model for his students in the process.
“Everyone who knows this about me thinks I’m crazy,” said Boundy, 39. “They’re impressed, but they think it’s insane.”
Boundy mostly keeps quiet about his hobby, except as a way to motivate his students.
Boundy tells them how long-distance running didn't come naturally at first. As a teenager, Boundy was overweight; the fastest he could run a mile was in about 12 minutes and he could barely run longer than that, he said.
But about 15 years ago, the Coram resident formed his running habit to get in shape and help combat a family history of obesity and high blood pressure, he said. Boundy slowly began building up his stamina, eventually running 10-kilometer races and half-marathons. In 2005, he completed his first marathon — the New York City Marathon, which snakes through all five boroughs.
Soon enough, he was running “a marathon a month,” and by 2015, he had run a marathon in every state, he said.
“I talk to them about how I was really heavy and didn’t really exercise, but by sticking with it I’ve been able to get to where I am,” he said. “I think that sticks with them.”
Boundy sometimes will incorporate his running experiences into his lesson plans, he said. A marathon in Belgium guided him past the trenches dug during World War I, and another in France brought him close to Normandy, the site of the D-Day operation. Those trips came up during lessons on U.S. involvement in World War I and World War II, he said.
Jeffrey Sautner, director of social studies for the Commack school district, said Boundy is devoted to teaching his students American history and fanatically committed to running.
But apart from Boundy's wiry frame and impressive resting heart rate, most people would never know the teacher would be running his 100th marathon Sunday, Sautner said.
“He’s very modest about it and doesn’t try and bring attention to himself at all,” Sautner said. “We couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s a great role model for our kids and staff.”
Boundy is using Sunday's race — which starts at Main Street in Patchogue, runs down to Heckscher State Park and loops back — as an opportunity to raise money for local veteran services. In some ways, it is “just another marathon” for Boundy, who trains year-round.
And he is already looking forward to tackling his next goal: running a marathon on every continent. He will run a race in Japan next April.
“I kind of need to keep setting goals, to keep training,” Boundy said. “I’m just grateful that I’m able to remain healthy and keep going.”