Lenexa police officer runs 52 marathons in 47 weeks, all for charity

Bob Schluben was running well behind the the winning pace in an area marathon Sunday, but he still had plenty to savor in crossing the finish line.

The Lenexa police officer had pledged to run a marathon every weekend for a year to raise money for two charities. Some thought it quixotic, but Schluben, 44, was serious. The Gobbler Grind marathon in Overland Park was his 52nd. It wrapped up 1,362.4 miles of running — work that raised almost $30,000.

“It’s not about the running,” he said. “I’m tired, but this is good.”

He was greeted by supporters who had been waiting more than an hour in frigid weather, yelling, “Come on Bob, come on Bob, thank you Bob!”

Brenda Horn, a director of resource development for Sunflower House in Shawnee, was one of them. The child abuse prevention center is one of the charities Schluben is helping. She said people at the center were stunned by his offer, and they teased him that he was crazy for how he was going to do it.

“He’s really absolutely awesome,” she said.

The other charity is the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund, also known as SAFE, which raises money to support the families of police officers, firefighters and paramedics who die in the line of duty.

“It’s just amazing,” Kansas City police Detective Kevin Boehm said about Schluben’s feat.

Schluben had entered some marathons and wasn’t doing well. Then someone asked whether he was running for a cause, and that triggered the idea to raise money for charity while running. Promising to do 52 marathons in a year was his idea.

“I wanted to make a statement,” he said.

He traveled as far as Oregon and Maine to enter marathons. Sometime he slept in his car to save money, and he used vacation days when necessary. People who learned about what he was doing donated money to the two charities.

The Gobbler Grind marathon he finished Sunday has been an annual event for 17 years. Justin Gillette of Goshen, Ind., had the top time at 2 hours and 42 minutes.

Schluben took about twice as long, but it looks like he’ll have a few more marathons to improve. He initially promised to run a marathon each weekend, but a few weekends he did more than one. So even though he has done 52, he plans to do five more to complete the year.

“I don’t want anyone to think I’ve given up,” he told Sunflower House officials.