For someone who has never competed in a 5K race, Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen proved to be quite the runner.
On Saturday, the 43-year-old Mullen was coaching college football in the Bulldogs’ spring game. On Monday afternoon, Mullen finished his first Boston Marathon as he crossed the finish line in a respectable net time of 4 hours 28 minutes 35 seconds.
Mullen, a native of New Hampshire who grew up 70 miles north of the starting point of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., received a sponsor’s exemption into the race to help raise money for his family’s foundation. So what if they messed up his bib, saying he’s from Michigan instead of Mississippi?
According to his foundation’s website, running the Boston Marathon has been a lifelong dream for Mullen, who went to high school in nearby Manchester, N.H. Mullen told The Clarion-Ledger’s Michael Bonner in an article published last week that he ran almost daily through the summer and into the fall, but the SEC football schedule prevented his runs from exceeding six miles.
But with encouragement from Wally Zediker, his wife Megan’s brother who has completed ultra marathons and Iron Man races, Mullen trained on the weekdays by running up to 10 miles at 7 a.m. followed by his coaching duties. He saved the 13-plus mile runs for the weekends in the offseason and completed a 20 1/4 mile run on Easter.
“And somehow [made] it to a staff meeting before 6:30, 7 a.m every day,” Megan said (via The Clarion-Ledger). “It’s unbelievable what he has put himself through with this race. The commitment, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
On Monday, Mullen proved that he put the training to good use, running his first marathon at 10:15 per mile pace, just a shade over the median marathon finishing time in 2014 for men in U.S. marathons (4:19:27), according to Running USA, and raising money for his foundation, which helps various children’s charities in Mississippi.
“God’s blessed me with so many great opportunities to live my dreams,” Mullen said (via The Clarion-Ledger). “So our foundation, we look out and we want to try to help children’s organizations in Mississippi.”
This post has been updated.