Why Stars Are So Addicted to Running Marathons

With yesterday's New York City marathon, Bachelor Nation's Andi Dorfman and Tyler Cameron joined a growing list of celebrities who just can't get enough of racing marathons.

By Sarah Grossbart Nov 04, 2019 6:30 PMTags
Andi Dorfman, 2019 NYC Marathon Noam Galai/NYRR via Getty Images

Their motivations varied. 

Amy Robach wanted to mark her sixth cancer-free anniversary by returning to the race alongside husband Andrew Shue. Bachelorette fan favorite Tyler Cameron was eager to see what he could push his body to do, while Andi Dorfman, another alum of the ABC love hunt, kind of fell into the sport when a busy schedule kept her from getting to the gym. 

Those separate pushes drove each star to lace up their New Balance and Asics sneaks and join some 50,000 others at the Staten Island starting line of the TCS New York City Marathon yesterday. 

For Robach, it was a simple glance at the calendar that drove her back into training. "When I found out that race day falls the same week as my 6-year cancer-versary, it just felt right," the breast cancer survivor, racing for Team For Kids told People. (She celebrated five years my climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2018.) She and Shue, she continued, "are sticking together from start to finish. Our goal is to enjoy every mile." 

Same for Cameron, hooked after taking part in the Chicago Marathon mere weeks before hitting the streets of NYC. The former Wake Forest quarterback was inspired to ramp up mileage after watching his dad battle illness. Wanting to ensure no one else got sick, "I took it as an initiative to take the rest of my family and friends out to start running once a week on Thursday or walking—just moving for, like, 30 minutes," he told Good Morning America. "Just to get everybody moving and get healthier." 

Having moved to New York following his summer of reality TV fame, the Florida native signed up for two fall marathons and he's already eyeing more. "I think it's a fun way to push yourself," he shared. "I like challenges—and maybe I'll find a new challenge afterwards that's completely different—but it's just like pushing the limits." 

Truthfully, Dorfman never envisioned herself bumping quite so close to her own personal limit. 

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"I've been a runner—I put that in air quotes because I like run/walk—for a couple of years," she joked to GMA, but once she found herself on the road often, "It would be hard to find a gym when I was in certain cities, especially in other countries, so I would just run and I would see the city...and that kind of became my main form of exercise." 

Back in her adopted city of New York, she found herself pounding the pavement more often as well "We've got an incredibly skyline, so I'd go at sunset," she told People.  

New York Road Runners, the organization behind the annual race took notice. "They had picked up that I had been running a lot and asked me to do the marathon," she recalled. "And, I don't know, for some reason I just said, 'All right, let's do it.'" Armed with a training plan put together by former Olympian Roberto Mandje, who put her through one strength training run (think: progression run or hill workouts) a week, she began showcasing her workouts on Instagram—and her #andorfins movement was born. 

"I love people who Instagram story themselves running and they'll tag me or they'll send me a message and they'll be like, 'Wow this is so motivational and so inspirational,'" she shared with Us Weekly of the online running community she's built. "I never grew up a runner. I never thought of myself as somebody that was fit or somebody that could advocate for that and then the more people kind of have caught onto it, it's inspired me to keep going, the more I keep doing it. And it's just kind of become something that I really like and I think it's relatable in the sense of I'm not an athlete." 

Dorfman, who ran in support of the organization Girls on the Run, is far from the only one chasing that, er, #andorfins high with everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Kevin Hart racing their way through the streets of New York, Boston, London and Washington, D.C. 

Check out which stars have been off and running. 

Karlie Kloss

"Singlehandedly the hardest thing I've ever done," the model said of taking on the race in her adopted city of New York. She crushed the 2017 outing in four hours, 41 minutes, and then trained to walk the Victoria's Secret runway in Shanghai weeks later. 

Alicia Keys

"One foot in front of the other was my mantra!" Keys posted about finishing the 2015 course in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. (She notched a time of 5:50:52.) For her, the race was an energizing challenge. "I'm all about breaking mental boundaries," she wrote in a Refinery29 blog post, "and training for a marathon falls right into the Jedi mind-training I need."

Natalie Dormer

Though the Game of Thrones star insisted she didn't much care about her time in the 2016 London event because she raised upwards of $7,000 for The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's ChildLine service, she admitted to reporters she was "a tiny bit peeved," about her three-hour, 54-minute finish as it was 24 seconds slower than her 2014 debut. 

Ryan Reynolds

Seeing his dad battle Parkinson's inspired the actor to run New York City in 2008. Finishing in three hours, 50 minutes, he also raised money to help fight the disease, teaming up with Michael J. Fox's Team Fox. 

George W. Bush

Having kept up with the sport long after he ran the Houston course in 1993, Bush accepted few excuses from people who said they simply couldn't squeeze a workout in. "I believe anyone can make the time [to run]," he told Runner's World during his term. "As a matter of fact, I don't believe it—I know it. If the President of the United States can make the time, anyone can."

Will Ferrell

"Running a marathon is not a question of whether it will be painful, but when it will be painful," the actor said after finishing his third marathon—Boston's 2003 race—in less than four hours. He later noted to Podium Runner that people "are terribly underwhelmed when they recognize me in a race. There's nothing funny going on. It's just a lot of silence and pain."

Katie Holmes

With the help of Kanye West's "Stronger", the actress finished the NYC marathon in 2007, and then turned up (in heels!) alongside then-husband Tom Cruise at his Lions for Lambs premiere. 

Cynthia Erivo

Before the Tony winner ran the 2016 New York City Marathon in three hours and 57 minutes, she tackled another feat of endurance, opening the race by belting out the National Anthem. 

Oprah Winfrey

After vowing to take on a marathon before she turned 40, the queen of daytime television ran 26.2 miles in Washington, D.C. in 1994. In the pouring rain. As two National Enquirer reporters tagged along tracking her every move. She finished in an impressive four hours, 29 minutes. 

Kevin Hart

A year after he tackled his first marathon in NYC, the comedian participated in the 2018 Chicago Marathon to raise funds to help send kids to college. "The reason behind this run is simply first and foremost personal greatness, personal achievement but also what I can bring awareness to, what I can raise money for," he shared on Instagram, shouting, "Education!" 

Uzo Aduba

Running the Boston Marathon in 2015 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Orange Is the New Black star listened to Sara Bareilles' "Brave" in tribute to a friend she lost to the disease. "That was her motivator getting through every single day of treatment, every single round of chemo, that was what she was listening to constantly," she explained. "And I listen to that when I'm training now, and I can hear her telling me, 'Keep going.'"

Andi Dorfman

Though the former Bachelorette told People her goal was simply to finish the hilly 26.2-mile course in New York City ("I don't want to be disappointed," she explained of getting her heart set on a specific time) the reality star walked away from the 2019 event with an impressive sub-four-hour finish time.