INDIANAPOLIS (IndyStar) — Dave Jones has slept in his wife's minivan before marathons. He's also spent the night in a rented Toyota Yaris in a bank parking lot.
Before Saturday's CNO Financial Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, Jones, 41, snoozed in the lap of comparative luxury — a Quality Inn.
The point of the less-than-glamorous nighttime arrangements is to keep costs down during his pursuit of a lofty goal: becoming the first person to run public marathons in all 50 states and on seven continents in one year.
Jones knows the endeavor is a wild one. He relates his wife's answer whenever she's asked about it: "He's an idiot."
"I can't necessarily disagree," said Jones, who has three children. "But she's very tolerant. She supports my dreams; I support hers."
Indiana is state No. 38 for Jones, who lives in Hanson, Ky. He ran the 26.2-mile full marathon course in just more than five hours and skipped across the finish line with a big grin that flashed above his long, dark beard. The race sold out with 6,000 participants, according to organizers. About 19,000 total participated in the full and half-marathons, 5K and Kids Fun Run.
Earlier this year, Jones completed the Triple 7 Quest: seven marathons in seven continents in seven days. If all goes according to his schedule, he'll have all 50 states completed by Jan. 18, 2018 in Hawaii.
Jones isn't doing this because he loves running. Actually, he calls it painful.
"My feet hurt every single day," said Jones, who is more 6-1 feet, and about 235 pounds.
"I'm constantly muscle-sore, I'm fatigued, I'm beat up, I have blisters and all the stuff that goes with it. It's a constant exercise in not complaining."
But running marathons helped Jones kick a two-plus-decade nicotine addiction and lose weight, he said. Finishing so many in a year satisfies his desire to achieve difficult goals.
He'd like to set a Guinness World Record. Through research, Jones found that people have set records for running marathons in all 50 states in a year or on seven continents. But he hasn't found anyone who has done both, so he applied to Guinness and is waiting for it to decide whether to accept the record attempt.
After years in the coal industry and in sales, Jones started Eternal Endurance. He now provides motivational speaking and ultra-endurance coaching and sells clothing. Conquering marathons and Ironman competitions himself helps Jones motivate others.
"A lot more people want to listen to your story if it's compelling," Jones said. "And being the first person to ever do a thing, especially something as grand as this, certainly gets people looking in your direction."
Jones didn't begin the year with the goal to run on every continent and in every state. He realized after finishing the Triple 7 and a few other marathons this year that he could fit in all 50 states if he planned geographical gymnastics.
Some jaunts are on consecutive days, while others are spaced several days apart.
"I have to do stupid things, like leave Wyoming and go to Alaska and miss Nebraska and come back three weeks later," Jones said.
"But I got them all scheduled. They're all bought and paid for, and now I just have to show up at all of them."
Fortunately, his race-day preparation is simple. On Saturday morning, Jones consumed a banana, Naked Juice Green Machine and a Clif Bar.
Mostly, he takes care of his feet. He covers the bottom of them with Leukotape, then coats them in lotion before pulling on long socks and shoes.
Jones' most noticeable attribute — his beard — aids him as well.
"The beard gives you all the power," Jones said. "The beard is effective sunscreen, it is also effective wind protection as well as what everybody else thinks, which is that it keeps you warm."
Finishing is really a matter of determination for him.
"When I say something out loud — good, bad or ugly — it's going to happen," Jones said.