Distance runner with positive message to speak at Whidbey Island Marathon Expo

Extreme athlete Dane Rauschenberg of Portland will be the featured speaker at the Whidbey Island Marathon Expo Saturday, then run the marathon Sunday. - Photo courtesy Dane Rauschenberg
Extreme athlete Dane Rauschenberg of Portland will be the featured speaker at the Whidbey Island Marathon Expo Saturday, then run the marathon Sunday.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Dane Rauschenberg

Dane Rauschenberg’s biggest rush used to be imagining himself as a counter-terrorism officer for the CIA.

It’s a dream he chased most of his life and kept in his sights as he embarked on a new pursuit as a long-distance runner.

When he was 29, the year he began interviewing with the Central Intelligence Agency, he started on a wild quest to run 52 marathons in 52 consecutive weeks in a form of extreme running that was starting to gain traction.

On his way to accomplishing that feat, his life turned in a new direction.

“By then, I was hooked on running,” Rauschenberg said. “I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe I had a 29-year span leading to one point, and now I want to do something else.’ I knew this was what I wanted. I wanted to be involved in the running world in some capacity.”

Rauschenberg didn’t just get his feet wet, he dove in head first.

His new passion led him on a journey all over the world to compete in marathons, ultra-marathons, and other endurance events. It took him to Portland, where he currently calls home, and will bring him to the Whidbey Island Marathon for the first time this weekend.

“The plan is to see where this running world takes me,” Rauschenberg said.

Rauschenberg, 37, uses his own life experiences as the basis for a speaking and writing career that occupies most of his time these days.

Contrary to what some might think, he’s not a professional runner.

“My professional lifetime winnings for running is $150,” he said. “If I’m a professional runner, I’m really bad at it.”

What makes Rauschenberg a big draw is his motivational speaking. He believes through his own experiences of determination and withstanding tests of endurance, he carries a powerful, inspirational message that can resonate with anyone.

He will be the featured speaker at the Whidbey Island Marathon Expo Saturday at North Whidbey Middle School. He will talk at 1 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. The event is free.

Rauschenberg’s message for people is to “ignore the impossible.”

He draws from his own experiences such as the streak of 52 marathons he ran in 2006 and wrote about in “See Dane Run,” one of two books he’s authored.

In 2010, he ran the 202-mile American Odyssey Relay from Gettysburg, Pa., to Washington, D.C. — an event that normally involves six-to-12 relay runners — by himself. A short film about that adventure called “No Handoffs” will premiere at the Expo.

Rauschenberg’s most recent extreme feat came in 2012 when he ran the entire length of the Oregon Coast — all 350 miles —  in seven days. He wrote a book about that, too.

Rauschenberg preaches that people should not set limits on what they can accomplish. He only points to the direction his own life has taken.

He grew up in the small town of Titusville, Pa., where he was an accomplished swimmer, then went on to Penn State University and tackled rugby.

“Until I was 17, I hadn’t gone 90 miles from my house,” he said.

He went to law school and thought he was headed to the CIA. Instead, he’s a motivational speaker who is sought after by corporations, universities and other organizations.

“I grew up in a small town and never traveled,” he said. “Now I travel the world. I wasn’t a runner. Now I’m a runner. I was a suit in the corporate world. Now you’re lucky to catch me with clothes on.”


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