I Completed The Damascus Marathon!

May 8th of 2024 I completed the Damascus Marathon on a whim. I had just spent the scariest and longest afternoon of my life hiking through a lightning storm on a ridgeline (I know how stupid this was and I was appropriately scared knowing the idiocy and danger). I hobbled into the Iron Mountain Shelter wet, scared, and exhausted. It was in the hours that followed that I not only learned what the Damascus marathon was but I was also convinced to do it. 

Why This Challenge Was Worth A Post

Let me explain what the marathon is in the hopes that you may find that this was as impressive(for myself) as I did. The reason that I say that this is impressive for ~myself~ is because there are some people, who scare me, that do this daily. The Damascus marathon was my longest day at the time and remains my longest day. 

The Damascus Marathon begins at Iron Mountain Shelter and follows the Appalachian Trail 26.2 miles into the town of Damascus and concludes at the Marathon gas station in town. How perfect is it that the span is a perfect 26.2 and finishes at a gas station named Marathon! Anyways, I will admit that the trail is mild and is more downhill then uphill but it was hard nonetheless.

Getting Talked Into The Challenge

After the miles and the rain and getting as dry as I could I had a meeting with the council. The council is what my tramily refers to our group as. We operate under 1 brain and vote on every decision whether it be miles, hostels, or the socks that a member wears on a given day. Crease, Snyder, Snail Mail and myself called a meeting to discuss whether the marathon was a challenge that we wanted to do, or even could do. It may sound a little absurd (it is) but we deliberated for several hours. We discussed every factor, feeling, ache and detail necessary to make sure that it was even worth considering. We would need a place to stay when we got into town and we had all planned to book a place together. We discussed the likeliness of each of us completing as well as what we would do for each considerable split, 3-1, 2-2, etc. Writing it down it doesn’t sound nearly as complicated as it was when we were discussing but what can I say? We’re a group of type A, overthinkers that love a physical challenge but had all also accumulated our own unique pains/injuries. 

Anyways, we left off saying that we would start early and decide while we hiked. 

The Day Of

In the hopes of accomplishing the marathon and writing about my experience I kept notes throughout the miles.

Here are my notes. 

5:45 am wake up

  • I am tired and not doing it. I am prepared to camp alone in the case of a 3-1 split.

7:00 am

  • Start time
  • I’m tired and damp
  • 50/50 chance I do it

7:40 am

  • 2 miles in
  • I’m committed, feeling strong and the miles are passing fast
  • My toes are soaked from the dewy grass 

8:14 am

  • 4 miles in
  • I have a slight twinge in my left knee/foot
  • My comrades stop to fill water
  • I keep moving, now leading our convoy
  • Silk blazing so heavy 

8:56 am

  • 6 miles in
  • I talked to my dad who is worried about my foot (I have developed Plantar Fasciitis) and the number of miles
  • I am still committed
  • I get a nice break from the trees with a walk through some meadows

10:00 am

  • 8 miles in
  • I stopped at a shelter for a snack break
  • I also got scared by a deer and may have peed on my shoe (It’s ok I was already planning to replace them)
  • The accordion closes and my comrades catch up
  • The biggest climb of the day is over

10:39 am

  • 10 miles in
  • I saw my first orange salamander! 
  • Twinges are gone (motion is lotion?)(please do not listen to that advice…)

11:20 am

  • 12 miles in
  • I’m just pushing miles
  • This was not a very exciting stretch

12:43 pm

  • 14 miles in
  • I have passed the half way mark
  • Take a break to fill water and book our stay for the night
  • No wimping out now

2:15 pm

  • 16 miles in
  • Took a quick lunch break
  • Resupplied my snacks
  • My friends back home (Lily and Brian I love and miss you guys!) finish their marathon! (yes my friends also had a marathon today, this may or may not have been my biggest motivation for the challenge) 

2:54 pm

  • 18 miles in
  • Working on getting back into my zone

3:39 pm

  • 20 miles in
  • Podcasts come into play
  • My feet are really starting to hurt me

4:27 pm

  • 22 miles in
  • Took a break to clear the debris from my shoes
  • I am getting tired, moving slower
  • I beat my personal pr!

5:17 pm

  • I crossed the border into Virginia! See ya later Tennessee!
  • Got pictures, of course, with my ladies, Snail Mail and Snyder. Crease would have been invited had he not been so far ahead of us.
  • Enter Birdie mode (No, I will not explain)

5:53 pm

  • 26 miles in 

5:59 pm

  • 26.2 miles done!
  • I got catcalled by a child in a truck
  • The conversation went as follows
  • child: “your backpack is a little big”
  • myself: “just a little”
  • child: ~blows me a kiss~ “bye sexy”

Yes, I promise this happened. A ginger, 10 year old boy was hanging out of a truck and shared this interaction with me during the last .2 miles of my marathon. I was slightly flattered…

The rest of my day included pictures with my crew in front of the Marathon gas station, ice cream, pizza and a very early bed time. 

My Personal Thoughts Following The Marathon

In a mood that I don’t often find myself in, I was incredibly proud of what I accomplished. I understand that a marathon is not a big deal for everyone and there are people that can do them day after day but that is not me. This was my biggest day in all of my outdoors experience. Running, day hiking, backpacking, I have never covered this much ground. Before moving onto the trail I watched as my aforementioned friends trained for their marathon. They were so impressive to me, running an insane amount of miles in an insane amount of time every day. I am built very differently from them, a different type of athlete. I didn’t have the thought that I could go so far in a single day, let alone over mountains with a heavy pack. 

I was also incredibly proud of my team. Crease, Snail Mail, Snyder, we all made it to the end. I had asked Snyder the night before what she thought the odds were that we would all finish. She gave me 50/50 odds. We did in fact, all make it. No matter the miles or the challenge we put in front of ourselves. No matter how tired or dehydrated or in pain we are. No matter the amount of bail out locations we put into our plans or state that we don’t think we can finish the day, we always do. We also all always make it. Full transparency, there are a lot of days, a lot of miles that I do not think I would have completed had I been by myself. I would have let myself use the bail out locations. I most likely wouldn’t have even planned the amount of miles to begin with. 

I would not have considered, let alone, attempted or even completed the challenge had it not been for my team. They are truly impressive.






My name is Alex Tucker and I am fully invested in this endeavor. I plan to be consistent on this platform but if you would like to know more about me and my time on the trail you can follow me on Instagram @nobo.nomad!


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Comments 1

  • Kerosene : May 20th

    Congrats on your PR distance. Yes, this is an easier stretch of the AT, but it still takes time and you’re on your feet for that entire time. My bet is that you’ll do it again before you reach Katahdin.—maybe in NY to get to a deli for dinner, or MA to keep away from skeeters, or the 100-Mile Wilderness to get to your food drop! Enjoy your hike.


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