Thanks to a bet and a little liquid bravado, Phil Martino, a regular on the Tipp Hill bar scene, will run his first ever marathon.
After accepting a 26.2-mile challenge from friends one night while enjoying a few adult beverages at Nibsy's Pub, Martino began a five month training program to prepare himself for the Empire State Marathon this Sunday.
A cross country runner in high school, Martino has since lived a mostly sedentary lifestyle. Through marathon training, however, the 33-year-old has completely transformed his life. Martino slowly built up from running one mile each day in his first week of training to recently completing an 18-mile run and he's shed over 30 pounds in the process.
"The biggest change about Phil is the way he looks," said Mike Keohane, the friend who made the fateful bet with Martino. "He's lost a ton of weight. He's got a lot more energy. He's not the old man he was sitting at the bar every night."
Though this Sunday Martino will attempt a feat that less than one-percent of the world's population has achieved, he truly believes that anyone with the right drive and will power can do exactly what he has done.
"I was the definition of a local drunk," laughed Martino. "Doing stupid things, signing up for a marathon, going out all week...it was the furthest thing from my mind. But now I have a focus, a goal to concentrate on."
The Empire State Marathon will kick off Sunday at 7:30 a.m. from the NBT Bank Stadium parking lot. The 26.2-mile course weaves through Onondaga Lake Park, Liverpool, Baldwinsville and Syracuse before ending back at the home of the Chiefs. For more information about the race, visit empirestatemarathon.com.