How This Maryland Runner Completed the Baltimore-Chicago-Boston Marathon Triple

Jordan Tropf ran three marathons on back-to-back-to-back days, finishing all in about two-and-a-half hours.

jordan tropf
Thomas Neuberger

When the 2021 Boston Marathon was postponed to the fall, it created a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for runners to run two World Marathon Majors on back-to-back days. But at least one runner took it even further.

Jordan Tropf, a 29-year-old from Silver Spring, Maryland, ran the Chicago and Boston Marathons on consecutive days, but he also added a Saturday marathon close to his home in Baltimore the day before. This gave him three marathons in three days.

Tropf had never attempted anything like this before—and not only did he want to complete all three, he wanted to do so as fast as possible. For an unsponsored runner who has some notable wins on his resume (Big Sur 2019 and Marine Corps Marathon 2019), it was a big ask, but he and his wife/crew chief, Hannah, thought this 2021 challenge would be fun to go after.

“It almost started as a joke when we learned Baltimore was the same weekend as Chicago and Boston,” Tropf told Runner’s World. “Is that possible? We started looking and figured out that logistically it would be and decided to go for it.

Tropf balanced his training with his work as an orthopedic surgery resident at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, hitting weeks of 60 to 110 miles, at his peak. He also included a lot of time on the bike and occasionally in the pool; he also completed Ironman Maryland in September, finishing in 9:18:25, which is good enough to qualify him for the 2022 Kona Ironman World Championships.

While training was a big piece of preparing for three consecutive race days, Tropf also had another challenge: logistics. Not only did Tropf have to travel from city to city and determine his hotels, but he also had to figure out how to pick up his race bibs and where to eat—oh yeah, and recover.

“Olive Garden to-go was clutch,” Tropf said. “The create-your-own-pasta with grilled chicken and meat sauce was perfect each night before races, and then chocolate milk and a Subway foot-long (chicken, cheese, honey mustard, and lettuce) with two cookies to replenish after Baltimore and Boston.”

Knowing that getting his bibs would be an issue, Tropf reached out to Chicago and Boston race organizers over the summer to explain his challenge. Organizers at both marathons agreed to let him pick up his bibs on the morning of the race—something rarely offered to runners at World Major Marathons.

Tropf and Hannah were dialed in for the first 24 hours. Tropf clocked a 2:27:23 at the Baltimore Running Festival marathon, good enough to finish second overall, before grabbing his Subway and flying to Chicago.

After a quick night’s rest, he woke with somewhat sore legs; Tropf described them as, “like he had run a marathon the day before.” That didn’t stop him from dropping a 2:31:54 on what turned out to be a hot day in Chicago.

With two races down, Tropf had the rest of his day planned out: Get his Subway sandwich, maybe take an ice bath, and then head to the airport for his 3 p.m. Southwest flight. But as soon as Tropf got back to his hotel around noon, he and Hannah realized their flight had been canceled, and most flights out of Chicago to Boston on every other airline had been booked.

“This meant if left at that exact minute to drive, we’d get to Boston at like 3 a.m.,” Tropf said. “Growing up in Cleveland though, I knew we had other options. I knew Milwaukee, Detroit, Cincinnati, and other [cities with airports] were drivable distances. We eventually found a JetBlue flight out of Detroit at 6 p.m. We got back to the hotel at noon and were in a car at 12:30 for a four-hour drive for a 6 p.m. flight.”

They made it, and landed in Boston around 8 p.m. After picking up the Olive Garden order, he got some rest before making his way to Boston start line.

Tropf said his legs were sorer than the day prior, but he held on to run 2:32:13. To top it off, he set an unofficial world record for the fastest three marathons run in three days. Tropf’s total time was 7:31:30, beating the previous record of 8:11:08 by 40 minutes.

“I’m not a particularly sentimental or emotional guy, and when I finished, it felt like mission accomplished,” Tropf said. “I was happy with my time and it was a really nice feeling to have all my training pay off. But it wasn’t a one-man journey. So many people made it possible throughout the months leading up and I can’t thank them enough.”

Tropf also noted that he was wearing Under Armour’s carbon-plated prototype shoe. He is not sponsored by them, but Hannah works at Under Armour, and they agreed to let him test drive them for his run.

“They performed phenomenally; they were really comfy and responsive,” Tropf said. “I’m excited to see them as a contender in the super-shoe game. There are a few pairs in existence as they’re being developed, and I was privileged that they strapped them on a corn-fed, 170-pound amateur dude.”

Tropf plans to take the rest of the fall off from racing, though he admits if he’s feeling good and a race speaks to him, he may sign up. Regardless, the unsponsored Tropf is excited for a big 2022 where he has some big ideas for a few marathons (including the Marathon des Sables), the Ironman Championships, and maybe some other events.

“I’m not an elite,” Tropf said. “I don’t have a sponsor. A bunch of people made this happen, and if there is any takeaway from this for me, it’s that I hope I inspired someone to push a little harder and or do a little more than had done before. I’m not an elite. I had a goal and I chased it. I hope other people know they can too.”

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