McRunning a Marathon: The “McRunner,” Joe D’Amico, stood still long enough for Flavorly to catch up with him
April 4, 2011 22:40

Joe D’Amico, a marketing manager at a financial services company in the suburbs of Chicago, broke his personal marathon record at the LA marathon on March 20 by 46 seconds after 30 days of eating only McDonald’s.

“It was my 15th marathon and I was truly looking for something different, a new personal challenge,” says D’Amico. Not that running 100 miles per week and balancing work and family life isn’t hard enough, but he sought an added challenge that would be entertaining.

After pitching the idea to his wife, she thought he was crazy. So did his running buddies, friends, and co-workers. But D’Amico decided to tackle the challenge anyway. 

He laid out a few simple rules to follow. He could eat only McDonald’s for 30 days, with the exception of non-McDonald’s water, PowerGel, multivitamins, and ibuprofen, or “Vitamin I,” as D’Amico calls it. He would run a lot during the month, logging about 100 miles per week during the height of his training. He joked that he hoped to stay married, and his wife turned out to be extremely encouraging. When talking to Flavorly, he constantly said “we,” referring to his support system consisting of his wife and young daughter, rather than “I.” Lastly, D’Amico just wanted to have fun.

He created a blog, Confessions of a Drive-Thru Runner, to document his progress, and wound up gathering a large audience. Some left supportive comments like, “I admire you for surpassing so many of your personal goals and coming up with a creative way to McShake things up a bit,” while others criticized his goal. “omg gross! wouldn’t want to run behind that person haha!” one commenter posted.

D’Amico also created a Facebook page, which quickly attracted over 29,000 fans. With all the support, the “McRunner,” as he became known, added a sixth rule: donate $1 for every McRunner Facebook fan to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. To date, D’Amico has raised over $40,000. 

Prior to the challenge, D’Amico and his family ate at McDonald’s three to four times per week. The rest of his diet generally consisted of oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and chicken, pizza, or pasta for dinner. During the 30-day challenge, he estimates he consumed about 3,000 calories daily, including hotcakes, Chicken Snack Wraps, and hamburgers. Combined with an aggressive running schedule, he managed to drop a few pounds. D’Amico’s doctor said he would suffer no long-term effects, and D’Amico confesses noticing no differences in energy levels.

On race-day, D’Amico felt pressured by the journalists and photographers on the sidelines, but encouraged by his thousands of supporters. “I’m very proud of the fact that, despite all that, I was able to have faith in the training and keep my focus,” he says. He continued to remind himself that it was merely a race, just like every other marathon he had run in the past. “And in the end, to race at my personal best was really satisfying,” says D’Amico. He plans to run more marathons and give back to the community using his established fan base, but no Taco Bell or KFC challenges are on the menu.

                         The McRunner's Menu

Training days: 30
Miles Ran: 349
Total Visits: 99
Unique McD’s: 33
McRibs: 0
Angus Burgers: 1
Filet-o-Fish: 3
Hotcakes: 97
Oatmeal: 24
Hamburgers: 23
Chicken Snack Wraps: 24
Chocolate Milk: 9
Fruit & Walnut Salads: 14
Cookies: 63.5
McRunner Facebook fans: 29,334
Money raised: $40,059
Race time: 2:36:14 (5:57/mile)
What is a Drive-Thru Runner? “It’s really this idea that we have so many demands on our time, we have to find ways to simplify. At my peak, I put at least two hours a day into running, and I needed to find other ways to get back time. One of the ways was using the drive-thru, in a literal sense. In the metaphorical sense, it's that you must factor simplicity into your life,” says D’Amico.