“When I run in beautiful areas, nature makes me feel closer to God,” says Pipher, whose membership is at the Village Church in Berrien Springs. “I truly believe God’s been with me throughout my life.” 

April 6, 2023

Michigan Member Completes 100th Marathon

Marathon runner Theresa Pipher of Berrien Springs crossed the finish line of her 100th marathon at the Publix Florida Marathon in Melbourne, Florida, on February 12, 2023.

She took second place in her age group, 65-69, completing the marathon in six hours, 41 minutes, and 28 seconds. 

"As I've gotten older, I've gotten slower--I was happy I made it, especially with the 40 mph winds," Mrs. Pipher said. "It is a big accomplishment to run 100 marathons. I was so excited I didn't think about food or taking photos." 

Pipher, 68, lives in Berrien Springs, and she retired as a nurse after 40 years of working for Lakeland Hospital in Niles. She and her husband, Tom, have one son, Daniel (Mariya) Porter; and one granddaughter, Zoya Porter, who attends Mars Elementary. The year Zoya was born, she ran Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota. 

During her early educational years, Pipher attended the Village Seventh-day Adventist School and graduated with a bachelor's of science in nursing from Andrews University. 

She ran her first marathon in 1985 in Chicago, and has since completed six marathons in that city. She has run nine marathons in her home state of Michigan. 

"I started when I was 30 years old," she said. "It is never too late for anyone." 

She had run 63 marathons by the end of 2010, and it was at that point that she decided to make it a goal to run 100 marathons. 

“When I run in beautiful areas, nature makes me feel closer to God,” says Pipher, whose membership is at the Village Church in Berrien Springs. “I truly believe God’s been with me throughout my life.” 

She has run a marathon in every state, including Hawaii and Alaska. She did a full Ironman in Kentucky, which involved a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon of 26.2 miles. She did a 50-mile Ultra Run at Mount Hood, Oregon. In 1993, she ran her fastest marathon at 3 hours, 59 minutes and nine seconds at the Sunburst Marathon at Notre Dame in Indiana. 


A Healthy Start 

Pipher started running because she did not want to be overweight or obese. 

"I did not know how to train--I ran as much as I could as a parent," she said. "After I completed a marathon, I would tell myself I am never doing this again, and then on the way home I would be planning for the next one." 

She has a couple of favorite marathon races after 38 years of competing. 

"I liked Melbourne because it was my 100th marathon, but I liked Chicago because it was my first race," she said. "Hawaii and Alaska were unique. Big Sur, California, was beautiful and I loved Berlin, Germany, and Athens, Greece, because of their history. The most difficult one was the Death Valley Marathon in California, but I really enjoyed the Maui Oceanfront Marathon in Hawaii when my son ran with me--that was really an honor." 

She has also run marathons in Stockholm, Sweden, and she ran three marathons in Canada in the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta. Other favorite locations have been Boston and New York. 

Pipher goes through about three pairs of running shoes a year, and she has a friend who walks with her while she runs, Jim Geiger. Geiger has run 69 marathons, but he now walks after suffering a stroke. 

She enjoys the health benefits of running as she is slim and trim, and not taking any medications or prescriptions. 

"I don't have any heart conditions and I don't have any trouble with my joints--it is amazing," she said. "My heart rate is in the fifties because my heart muscle is in such good condition." 

She thanked her family for their support over the years. 

"I could not have run all these marathons without the support of my family," she emphasized. 

Pipher is looking forward to the challenge of her next marathon this fall. 

"I can't be done--I get up in the morning and decide where I am going to run and how far-- I can't give it up yet," she said with a smile. 

Reprinted with permission for The Journal Era in Berrien Springs, Mich., with Lake Union Herald staff. The full article is available in the February 22, 2023 Journal Era.