Praying Runner Shares His Story

We saw a runner called The Praying Runner posted on Facebook that he would be running his 50th marathon at age 50 on March 4th at the Napa Valley Marathon. We were intrigued to find out his story and he graciously shared a little of life with us…


Why 50 Marathons and Why Running?

Thirteen years ago, at the age of 37, the Praying Runner, AKA Joey Cumagun, ran his first official registered race (a 5K). Joey caught the running bug after that and signed up for as many races as he could. A year later, he was running his first full marathon. He ended up participating in three to four marathons a year, training year-round. Within three years of starting his running journey, Joey had completed eight marathons. He set a goal to run 50 marathons by the time he was 50, and needed to accomplish 42 more marathons in 10 years. Joey wanted to stay healthy and fit and motivated no matter how difficult the challenge became.


So, Why Called “Praying Runner”?

In the middle of all his training, Joey’s wife’s breast cancer came back and metastasized. As her primary caregiver, Joey wanted to be there for her as much as possible. So, he ran early in the morning and came home before she woke up. One day, she woke up before he got back and she asked where he’d been. Joey’s response was that he had gone for a run, praying for her all the while.

She thanked Joey and asked him to pray for others, especially those who were sick like her. Since then, every time Joey goes for a run, he prays for her and others. In 2011, Joey’s wife passed away and he endured a painful time of grief. It took him time to get back to running. When he got to a point where he was able to face his grief, Joey gradually picked up where he left off and began running marathons carrying a single pink rose the whole way and laying it down at the finish line in remembrance of his wife. Many people, family and friends supported him and continue to support him. This 50th marathon must have been especially poignant for Joey and our hearts reach out to him for the love he has shared with his wife.


Praying Runner’s top 3 marathons:

We asked Joey what his top three marathons were to share with other runners deciding on their next challenge. Note that all of the 50 marathons Joey completed were in California.

  1. Big Sur Marathon for the spectacular view and great running weather.
  2. Napa Valley Marathon for the hometown, biggest little race feeling.
  3. California International Marathon (CIM) for the downhill, fast finish course recommended for BQers.

Now having hit his goal of 50 marathons by age 50, Joey is looking to run marathons outside the state; in November, he’ll be running the NYC Marathon.

Why Running with RaceJoy?

The Praying Runner used RaceJoy at two events in Central California this year – the Bakersfield Marathon and Two Cities Marathon. Both events posted about RaceJoy on their websites so he thought he’d give it a go. His son in Washington downloaded the app to follow and support him remotely. His friend was on site and was able to also track him in real-time.

“It was really neat since they were able to follow me and cheer me on the course. I thought it was a great idea for my upcoming 50th marathon to ask all my friends and family to do the same.” – Praying Runner

His family and friends used the app to eliminate the guesswork in when he’d reach milestones along the course and cheered him on as he ran the most difficult part of the marathon, the last 385 yards to the finish.

“Thank you RaceJoy… it was made possible for my family and friends to support me just when I need it the most! And of course, for my family and friends who can’t make it, with RaceJoy’s GPS-phone based technology, they can still follow me during the entire race and cheer me along wherever they are!– Praying Runner


Visit the Praying Runner’s Facebook page to follow his story and his marathon journey.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us and allowing us to share it with others.

You are an inspiration to all of us.

Godspeed Joey!


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