Mohamed Jalloh

MSM: What made you want to tackle the marathon?

Mohamed: In 2018, while preparing for the Chicago Marathon, a fellow runner from the District Running Collective asked me if I was aiming for the 6-Star Medal. At that point, I wasn’t even aware of what it was. She explained the significance of completing all six World Major Marathons and how it’s viewed in the running community. This conversation sparked my interest and inspired me to pursue not just another marathon, but a prestigious goal that would take me around the world.

MSM: There are marathons and then there are majors which have a different vibe altogether. Take us through the feelings of running that first-world major and crossing the finish on the last one. Also, when did you know that you wanted to capture all 6 marathon majors?

Mohamed: The first World Major Marathon I ran was Chicago Marathon in 2018, at the time I only ran 1 previous marathon (The Marine Corps Marathon in 2016). I had recently started running with District Running Collective out of Washington, DC after returning home from a 3-year job assignment in Denver, CO.  I was new to the running community and had no sense of what run crews were about. I had a mediocre 18-week training cycle where initially, I focused almost exclusively on running, completing about 80% of my planned runs without incorporating strength training or cross-training. Needless to say, I was ill-prepared to run a strong 26.2 race.  Overall, however, I traveled to Chicago with my wife and 2-year-old daughter and was extremely excited but nervous about running my first out-of-town race and first World Major Marathon. The weather that day was less than ideal, the temperature soared from 55 degrees, and raining to 70 and sunny, there was no cheer squad, or confetti guns waiting for me at mile 21, but I was blessed to have a mini cheer group of my wife, daughter and cousin at miles 13 and 25. When I crossed the finish line I was wet, bloody, and full of tears but full of joy and satisfaction. 

My final World Major Marathon was the 128th Boston Marathon, 7 marathons later I was full of confidence with nerves of steel.  I was ready to tackle the notorious Newton Hills and the all-time infamous Heatbreak Hill. My cast of supporters grew from 3 people to 26 friends and family members. The only thing I had to do was cross the finish line, after a record-high temperature of 72 degrees and 4 hours 27 mins, I reached the goal post and crossed Boylston Street to receive my Boston Marathon Medal and the illustrious 6 Star Medal……with no tears might I add but full of emotion and gratitude.  Overall, it was a humbling experience, I trained for 6 months to complete the Tokyo Marathon in March and the Boston Marathon in April, the hard work and sacrifice, the dedication and commitment to be a World Major Marathon finisher all worth it. Fun Fact, as I approached the finish line, I noticed there was an elderly lady who was fighting to complete the race, she struggled to stay upright as she continuously stumbled and rammed into the guardrails, I decided to lend her a helping hand across the finish line.  Although she was reluctant to receive my help, I insisted on helping her until she finished and was able to seek medical attention. *Let me know if you would like the video footage I have a copy of it.

I knew I wanted to capture all 6 World Major Marathons when my fellow DRC Member Bertha Cross introduced me to the program. As the years went on, I started to see more people in the running community, especially Black Runners achieve this goal, which fueled my inspiration.  In 2021, Dannielle McNeilly aka VexySpice w/Roses out of New York City finished the World Majors and that sealed the deal for me. With that, I thank all the previous runners who paved the way and inspired me and countless others to run all 6 World Major Marathons.” 

MSM: We’ve spoken about the races and running the majors but what has this experience felt like to you, the journey, struggles and training. Give our readers some insight into what those feelings were like going from marathon to marathon, I’m sure each one has a different story and perspective.

Mohamed: The journey to finishing the World Major Marathons has been nothing short of amazing, full of challenges and triumphs as well as setbacks and victories. I started my running journey in 2009 with my first sanctioned race (The Army 10-Miler), from there I’ve ran countless 5K’s, 10 Milers, 1/2 Marathons, Marathons and Stage Trail Races. One of the biggest challenges came just weeks before the Berlin Marathon in 2023 when I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, which causes chronic arthritis in the joints; the diagnosis could have sidelined my running career. Managing this autoimmune disease while maintaining a competitive edge was daunting. However, with a combination of holistic and Western medical treatment and tailored physical therapy, I managed to not only participate but compete, which was a huge personal victory.  

MSM: We are all runners but one of the things we seldom talk about is our full-time responsibilities outside of running. It’s amazing how most of us can find the time to train and run anywhere from 30–60-mile weeks all while balancing our day-to-day responsibilities. Crossing the finish line, finishing all the six-star world majors is an accomplishment, but what’s next? 

Mohamed: Balancing marathon training with my responsibilities as a Design and Construction Executive, a consultant, and a family man was incredibly challenging. The discipline and time management skills I homed in my professional life have translated into my training, enhancing my ability to manage the complexity of navigating the competing factors in my life. Personally, the journey has been a source of great joy and bonding with my family and the running community, enriching my life immeasurably. Having completed the World Majors, I’m now focusing on giving back to the running community. I’m exploring starting a podcast about running, developing a startup focused on running recovery and education, and advocating for better athletic facilities. I also plan to use my RRCA coaching certification more actively to help others achieve their running goals. I will still run races, but I will focus more on A-Typical Races like Ultra Trails, TSP, Ragnar, etc.

MSM: For those that are on this journey what words of encouragement, inspiration or advice would you share with other fellow runners?

Mohamed: My advice would be to SAVE YOUR MONEY……. lol, but in all seriousness, I advise that you see this challenge as more than just collecting medals. Each marathon is a journey; cherish the training, the places, and especially the people you meet along the way. Plan meticulously, but also be prepared to adapt. Remember, it’s about personal growth and pushing your boundaries, so make sure you’re enjoying the process, not just enduring it.

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