LEWISTON — On Saturday, Mike Brooks finished running his seventh marathon over seven days in seven states.

If you’re sensing a theme, it’s by design.

Brooks, a local retired firefighter, was raising $17,000 to send seven families to Camp Sunshine in Casco.

How old is Brooks?

Seventy, of course.

Despite a herniated disc, two bad knees and a couple of faulty heart valves, Brooks is hooked on the sport as well as on the notion that he can do his part to help families of children with life-threatening illnesses. Steroid shots in his spine and knees helped keep pain at bay during this past week, he said.

In addition to raising money through sponsors for his road races, Brooks sports a woman’s garter on his thigh into which spectators can stuff bills along the race route. He’s collected hundreds of dollars that way, he said Saturday, while riding through the Illinois countryside after finishing his seventh race.

“I’ll do anything for the money,” he said.

Brooks flew into Memphis a week earlier where he met his brother, Walter, who drives Brooks from race to race in a rented car. Marathon week took the brothers from Louisiana, through Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri before ending up in southeastern Illinois.

He admitted Saturday to being “a little bit sore,” but he had no blisters.

The camaraderie found among his fellow marathoners helps keep Brooks going, he said.

None of the money he raises pays for any of his expenses; it all goes to Camp Sunshine, he said. He and his brother are frugal travelers, using frequent-flier miles and sleeping at low-budget motels.

Brooks said he hopes to raise awareness about the camp in some of the poorer Southern states in which he raced where children with chronic illnesses may not have an opportunity to go to summer camp.

“What would really make my day is if two or three families from down here got up to Camp Sunshine,” he said. “That’s the big deal with me.”

Brooks runs roughly 70 races a year, including ultramarathons, races that exceed 26.2 miles, of which he has run 99.

Over the past 20 years, he’s raised more than $40,000 for Camp Sunshine, not including his latest marathon tour.

Brooks took up the sport late in life, undertaking his first marathon at age 50. He has since dropped about 50 pounds and a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit.

After completing seven marathons in seven days, many runners might feel they’ve earned some time off.

Not Brooks.

In two weeks, he plans to be in Augusta, N.J., where he expects to run in a 24-hour race followed by a 50-kilometer race, followed by two marathons, all within a 72-hour period. He’ll take a day off before running two more marathons.

“I have my bucket list; I’m trying to check off certain things,” he said. The 50k race will make it possible for him to check off the item: “100 ultramarathons,” he said.

To donate to his cause, go to crowdrise.com.


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