STORY AND PHOTOS BY ALLIE RODRIGUEZ, STAFF WRITER
STORY EDITED BY SPORTS EDITOR CHRIS POUNDS
A second year doctoral student studying Psychology at Wright State University, working three jobs, serving as a student government committee member, a member of Leadership 100 (a charitable/philanthropic organization) and president of an international honor society seems to be a schedule that leaves time for little else, but not for A.J. Tzagournis.
Nothing can stop a personal challenge for Tzagournis. As a dedicated runner, Tzagournis is currently training to run a marathon, but not just any marathon, an ultra-marathon. Tzagournis will be racing in the Thunderbunny 50K Ultra-Marathon, which is a 31 mile course, with ascending and descending trails.
“I have run three marathons before, but this will be my first ultra-marathon,” stated Tzagournis. “I’m really looking forward to it. I know with every ounce of my being, that I have to prepare for what will be the hardest, most grueling day of my life, by far.”
Running a marathon takes a lot of mental and physical training. As race day approaches, Tzagournis follows a strict training regimen. His routine includes at least seven hours of sleep a night, two hours a day working out/weight lifting, and daily running, often 3 hours a day.
“I have an advantage because I’m young and my joints and body are still fresh. My metabolism is high,” said Tzagournis.
Being 6’2’’, Tzagournis consumes 4,000-5,000 calories a day and still maintains his lean 180 lbs., compared to an average male his size who should take in 2,600- 3,000 calories depending on activity level. Tzagournis’diet consists of cereal, fruit, natural 100% peanut butter, whole grain bread, lean turkey, non-flavored Greek yogurt, and about three protein shakes throughout the day.
“Stick to your program and eat healthy, especially as race day approaches. Adhere to your running regimen because if you don’t, it really catches up to you,” emphasized Tzagournis.
“Being my first ultra-marathon, I’m just looking to finish,” stated Tzagournis. The winner of the 2016 men’s race had a time of 3:56:50, followed by a second place time of 4:16:44 with the final runner crossing the line at 8:06:00.
“A.J. is a fitness freak. He is really hard working; very motivated, ambitious, and very well disciplined,” stated Tzagournis’ father, Adam Tzagournis who is also a runner; having completed two full marathons himself in the Columbus area.
This is the second year for the Thunderbunny Marathon which will be held on May 13, 2017 at Strouds Run State Park, in Athens, Ohio. Last year 37 people participated in the 50k race and 158 people participated in racing overall. There will be shorter 25K and 12K courses for those not wanting to compete in the Ultra-marathon.
Online registration is still open for those interested in participating, but closes on May 9
50K: $75 after Feb. 1
25K: $50 after Feb. 1
12K: $30 after Feb. 1
Come out and support Tzagournis, and the others runners and enjoy the scenic Appalachian Foothills of Southeastern Ohio.
A.J. Tzagournis Busy Schedule
“I’m really looking forward to it. I know with every ounce of my being, that I have to prepare for what will be the hardest, most grueling day of my life, by far.”