After a marathon NHL career, former New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara is running marathons because, of course, he is! Throughout his final seasons, the former Boston Bruins captain and Norris Trophy winner became widely known for his age-defying work ethic. Not having to endure an 82-game NHL regular season hasn't changed that; it has just turned his focus toward a new challenge and addiction - running.
The 46-year-old will run the NYC Marathon this November after completing April's Boston Marathon in 3:38:23, and he's not stopping there. He plans to complete all the major marathons around the world, including Chicago, Tokyo, London, and others. After playing 1,680 NHL games, the most ever by a defenseman, Chara didn't want a break, he wanted a new challenge.
In an interview with Ethan Sears of the New York Post, Chara explained why he continues to push his own limits. “Sometimes you get into different mindsets, and you learn about yourself a lot through these challenges, through these good runs, bad runs," Chara told The Post.
"It’s just, I don’t know how to really explain it, but it’s something that it’s teaching you something about yourself. And it’s a very humbling experience.”
Surely, training to run 26.2 miles is enough excitement for a retiree, right? Not for Chara. In addition to running marathons, he's adding triathlons and Ironman competitions to his post-hockey to-do list. Back in June, he competed in his first triathlon, finishing 39th among 300 participants.
That race, the Harvest Triathlon, included a 0.9-mile swim in 68-degree weather, a 19.78-mile bike ride through a forest, and a modest 6.21-mile run to complete the race. It took him 2:28:26 to finish, about the length of a hockey game.
Chara loves testing his endurance and the spirit and atmosphere of these events. By turning to running, he's found a new challenge and a new community to learn from and inspire. We shouldn't be surprised. The bigger surprise would've been if he didn't.