Domer Diaries

My Domer Diary:

Off and Running


Editor's Note: This week’s Domer Diaries comes from Susan and Gary Milligan ’75, who recently completed the six Abbott World Marathon Majors as of March 2023.

Names: Susan and Gary Milligan
Class Year: 1975 (Gary)
Residence Hall: Keenan
Major: Mathematics
Local Notre Dame club: Grand Rapids

How did you and your wife, Susan, become runners?

In January 2008, there was an article in the Grand Rapids newspaper that a local running group had a free training program for the Grand Rapids 25K Riverbank Run to be held in May 2008. After reading the article, Susan decided to sign up for the race and participate in the training program. The weather conditions for running outdoors in Michigan in the winter months is always challenging, especially for a first-time runner. Susan was committed to seeing the training plan through and reaching the goal of finishing the race. After that experience, she was hooked on running. Soon she was running marathons and qualified for the 2011 Boston Marathon.

Susan Boston 2022
Susan running the 2022 Boston Marathon.

While training for the 2011 Boston Marathon, a friend told her about a 5K race in Boston that is held the day before the marathon. The 5K race crosses the famous Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street. Susan signed me up to run that race. I was new to running and set a goal of trying to run the 5K race at the same pace she was going to run the full marathon. We put together a training plan for me and I was “off and running." I enjoyed the training, had a great race experience, and was motivated to continue training for more races down the road.

What are some of your favorite races and what is up next on your running schedule?

Susan and I both enjoy the marathon distance races. We recently completed the six Abbott World Marathon Majors in Tokyo on March 5, 2023. The six marathons include Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Berlin, and Tokyo. Completing all six world major marathons in Tokyo was a highlight of our running journey. World-wide, fewer than 13,000 runners have completed all six marathons.

My favorite marathon is Boston; I have run it eight times now. I really enjoy the history surrounding the Boston marathon and the challenge of the course. Susan’s favorite marathon is Chicago. Her parents grew up in Chicago and the race course passes by her mother’s elementary school, on North Broadway Avenue in Lakeview. The Chicago marathon starts and finishes in Grant Park, and at the end of the race you are handed your race medal and a cold beer!

We plan to keep running marathons for as long as we can. In 2024, we are running Boston and Sydney, Australia.

Gary Boston 2022 1
Gary running the 2015 Boston Marathon.

As a Notre Dame graduate, are there any lessons or learning from your time as a student that motivates you as a runner and beyond?

At Notre Dame, I saw many examples of academic and physical toughness exhibited in the classroom or at an athletic event. Those experiences provided a foundation for me to be successful in my business and recreational pursuits. Training for and running marathons require both physical and psychological discipline. The personal challenge and sense of achievement are a primary motivation for me to continue running marathons.