Celebrity Marathon Runners Putting Themselves to the Test

Will Ferrell pounded it out in the 2012 Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon to benefit the ASPCA. (Photo: Jerod Harris/WireImage)
Will Ferrell pounded it out in the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Halloween Half Marathon to benefit the ASPCA. (Photo: Jerod Harris/WireImage)

Running can be addictive. Training for long-distance races (half-marathons, marathons, ultra-marathons) can be all-consuming, exhausting, and demoralizing — and at the same entirely invigorating. Not surprisingly, plenty of celebrities have been bit by the racing bug. Whether they participate in runs for health reasons, for the joy of it, or for charity, they all know you have to commit to train and ultimately finish a race.

Funnyman Will Ferrell has run three marathons — New York City in 2001, Stockholm in 2002, and Boston in 2003. He steadily lowered his finish times for the 26.2 miles by about 30 minutes each outing (first 5:01, then 4:28, then 3:56 for his personal record). Ten years later he jokingly said he’d slowed down a bit since then, when it took him more than two hours to complete the Rock ’n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon in 2013 with about 40 runners from Funny or Die.

The Anchorman actor may add some star wattage to his races, but like every other runner, when you’re out in the middle of the pack trying to make it to the finish line, celebrity status doesn’t matter. You still have to put in the work.

“People are terribly underwhelmed when they recognize me in a race,” he once said. “There’s nothing funny going on. It’s just a lot of silence and pain.”

Related: Ryan Lochte Reveals His Fitness and Diet Routine

For The Price Is Right‘s Drew Carey, running was all about losing weight. “I’m very businesslike about my runs,” he told Runners World in 2011. “I am not out to run to enjoy the scenery. I am not out to run because of the sunshine. I don’t say to myself, ‘It would be a beautiful day to get some exercise!’ That’s not the way that I look at it, though I wish I did.”

The former Marine finished the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon in 4:41:38, saying he felt awful and had started cramping up at about the 15th mile. “Lesson learned. I learned I’m not a quitter,” he joked, even as he mistakenly quoted his time as being longer than it was.

Tony Award-winning actor Cynthia Erivo ran the 2016 New York City Marathon in 3:57:07, after singing the national anthem at the start of the race. Pushing herself past limits seems to be the Color Purple star’s thing. Earlier in the year she had run the 13.1 miles of the Brooklyn Half Marathon in 1:47:19, after a small asthma attack at mile 11, and then went on to perform two shows on Broadway that evening. “I took it as a challenge,” she said.

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BOSTON, MA - APRIL 20: Orange Is the New Black star Uzo Aduba ran the 2015 Boston Marathon to support Bostons Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on April 20, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston-area native Uzo joined Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) team to raise funds for cancer research at Dana-Farber (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)
Boston-area native Uzo Aduba ran the 2015 Boston Marathon in memory of a friend. (Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)

Fundraising is often a motivating factor. After running the NYC Marathon in 2013, Orange Is the New Black‘s Uzo Aduba ran the 2015 Boston Marathon as part of the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge team and on behalf of her friend Andrea Trasher, who passed away from breast cancer in 2014.

Ryan Reynolds was focused while running the NYC Marathon in 2008. (Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)
Ryan Reynolds was focused while running the NYC Marathon in 2008. (Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)

Long before he became People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, Ryan Reynolds completed the NYC Marathon in 2008, with an impressive time of 3:20. “I finished [the race] 30 minutes faster than I thought I would,” Reynolds told Men’s Health. “And an hour after that, I thought I would have to go to the hospital.” He ran to raise money for the fight against Parkinson’s, which his father, Jim Reynolds, was diagnosed with 15 years earlier and died from in October 2015.

Pamela Anderson made it across the finish line in Central Park during the 2013 New York City Marathon. (Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Pamela Anderson made it across the finish line in Central Park during the 2013 New York City Marathon. (Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Pamela Anderson ran the 2013 NYC Marathon to benefit Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization. The Baywatch alum said the last five miles was harder than childbirth. “It was like giving birth and then being told to run as you’re giving birth. It was so much pain in my hips,” she said. “I don’t know if women are meant to run especially after having kids, but we raised a lot of money for Haiti for our J/P.”

Sean
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs rocked a mohawk while running the 2003 New York City Marathon. (Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images)

After only two months of intense training, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs raised a whopping $2 million for three children’s charities in New York after finishing the 2003 NYC Marathon with a time of 4:15:54.

“I’ve never experienced mental or physical pain like that,” Combs told reporters following the race, for which he shed about 15 pounds while training and developed severe tendinitis in his right knee. (The rapper also made the ultimate celeb sacrifices when he abstained from sex two weeks leading up to the race and limited his partying to just one night a week. “That’s a lot for me,” he said at the time.)

When Combs started to experience severe leg cramps during the race, he came close to throwing in the towel. “I was in real trouble and I wanted to stop,” he confessed. “This is definitely a life-changing experience for me because I did not stop. It was a beautiful experience.”

The spunky younger sister of Kate Middleton needed the challenge of something more than city streets. Pippa Middleton‘s first full marathon was in Kenya in 2015, as she checked it off her bucket list.

“I decided that a marathon was a ‘life box’ that needed ticking and this year was my time — despite it being one of the toughest in the world, with temperatures rising to more than 30°C, at an altitude of 5,550 feet and with the possibility of bumping into lions or rhinos,” she said.

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She’s since gone on to run the 47-mile Otillo Swim-Run Championship in Sweden, one of the toughest endurance races in the world. It involves swimming and running across 26 islands in the Swedish archipelago in a dusk-to-dawn race to the finish line.

Lest you think that some stars are just playing at this running business, check out a few folks who had some of the fastest times of all celebs going after those 26.2 miles of glory: Jonny Lee Miller came in at 3:01:40 in NYC in 2013; Dana Carvey at 3:04:21 in 1972; and Bryan Cranston with 3:20:45 in 1985.

Miller has also gone on to run ultra marathons for good causes, like when he ran the Bear Mountain Challenge in Bear Mountain, New York, to benefit Jonah’s Just Cause in 2013. Jonah is the son of a cameraman on Miller’s CBS show Elementary who has Sanfilippo Syndrom, a rare pediatric disease.

The
The “Today” show’s Al Roker slowly but surely made his way through Central Park and the rest of the New York City Marathon course in 2010. (Photo: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)

On the other end of the finish line spectrum is Al Roker’s 7:09 time in the 2010 NYC Marathon. If you think that’s a pretty bad time, you’d probably be right — but remember that it’s about 7 hours and 9 minutes faster than that marathon most of us have never run!