More than half a million people run a marathon in the United States each year, a number that’s been climbing over the decades. It might come as no surprise that some of those runners are celebrities. They enter marathons for many of the same reasons the rest of us do, from a desire to challenge themselves to raising funds for charitable causes near and dear to their hearts. Here is a list of stars who decided to lace up their sneakers and pound the pavement alongside the everyday people who put their bodies to the test over that challenging 26.2-mile distance.
You won’t believe the criticism one star received for running in a marathon!
Will Ferrell Has Completed Three Marathons
Many of his fans might not be aware that the hilarious Anchorman star Will Ferrell is a pretty serious runner. He’s completed three marathons: the New York City Marathon in 2001 with a time of 5:01:06; the Stockholm Marathon in 2002 at 4:28:02; and the Boston Marathon in 2003 with his personal best time of 3:56:12.
What’s it like when people look up and realize that they’re running next to a movie star? “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,” he joked to Competitor in 2013.
Pippa Middleton Likes To Run In Exotic Places
Pippa Middleton Matthews is the younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton. She received some major media attention after her appearance as the maid of honor at her sister’s wedding to Prince William. Specifically, people were smitten with her backside.
One clue to how Middleton Matthews keeps up her amazing physique is the fact that she loves to run, especially when she’s traveling to exotic places around the globe. Her first marathon was in Kenya in 2015, where she finished in 3:56:33. She also completed the 2016 Great Wall Marathon in China, coming in as the 13th fastest female to finish. Middleton-Matthews goes for longer distances too — including a 50-mile run/swim race in the Stockholm archipelago’s 1,000 islands, the day after her 32nd birthday.
Next: this movie star took his training to the extreme
Edward Norton Trained For A Marathon In Africa
In preparation for the 2009 New York City Marathon, American History X actor Edward Norton traveled to Kenya and trained alongside Maasai warriors. The tribe is known for its fast runners. Of his intense training, he told the Huffington Post, “It’s very difficult. It has its plateaus. Getting to 12 miles you’re like, this is ridiculous, I’m never going to get to 26. Then you get to 15 and you think you’re never going to get to 18. Then you get to 20, and you’re kind of in striking distance.”
Norton’s participation in the marathon raised money for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, a group that promotes sustainable development and aims to protect the Maasai tribe’s way of life.
Gordon Ramsay Blows Off Steam With Endurance Races
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is a serious athlete. The short-tempered host of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares has completed 15 marathons, three ultra-marathons, four half-Ironmans, and the world’s most notoriously tough Ironman competition, held in Hawaii.
In an interview with The Telegraph, he confessed that he’s "useless unless I’m under pressure. With pressure, commitment is healthy. When I don’t have pressure, I’m unhealthy. That’s the way I drive." He added, "I’ve seen so many chefs crash and burn. Training is my release. I would be lost without it. It gives me a reason to pull myself out [of work]."
Next: the comedian who beat a pro athlete in the NYC Marathon
Kevin Hart Beat Tiki Barber In The New York City Marathon
When comedian and actor Kevin Hart registered for the 2017 New York City Marathon, his first, he got serious about his training. It paid off, as he finished in 4:05:06. That’s a full 33 minutes faster than former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber.
After the run, Hart took to Instagram to post this statement: "Marathon complete. Got my gold medal. It’s an amazing feeling. I can check this goal off my list." He went on to run the 2018 Chicago Marathon, where he wrapped things up in 4:13:10.
Christy Turlington Burns Loves To Run
Supermodels get their sweat on, too! A longtime runner, Christy Turlington Burns has completed six marathons and has no plans to stop. She explained her love of the 26.2-mile race to The Cut: "Right before a marathon starts, there’s almost always that feeling of, I can’t believe I’m doing this again. But after, I feel euphoric. You feel like such a warrior, even if you’re so exhausted during it."
She continued, "As soon as you cross the line, you’re like, Incredible! Which is why people do it again and again. I’ve never finished and not felt good." Burns is also a yoga enthusiast and says the two activities keep her healthy and grounded.
Natalie Dormer, The Queen Consort Of Marathons
The actress best known for her portrayal of Margaery Tyrell on Game of Thrones could be called the Queen Consort of running. She’s completed the London Marathon twice, first in 2014 and then in 2016. She ran a bit slower in the second race than the first, coming in 24 seconds later with the official time of 3:51:21.
Dormer told The Independent that she “doesn’t give an [expletive]” about the slightly slower race time since her primary reason for running was to raise money for charity. “I’m here today because 3,000 children get in contact with ChildLine every day. And we don’t have enough money to talk to every single one of them,” she said. In total, she raised about $7,200 for the foundation in the 2016 marathon.
Coming up soon is a celebrity who received some pretty tough criticism after running in a marathon
Karlie Kloss Used To Hate Running
Karlie Kloss, a model and former Victoria’s Secret Angel, has said that she used to hate running. That all changed as she got older and gave the sport another shot, discovering that she loved it. She ran a half marathon and then the 2017 New York City Marathon.
Kloss found that training for the marathon was an incredible experience. As she narrated to Well + Good, “It taught me that our minds and bodies are capable of most challenges we put in front of ourselves. If you told me just five years ago that I would be running a marathon, I wouldn’t have believed you. But throughout this journey, I’ve learned more and more about myself and what I can accomplish, both physically and mentally.”
Next: you won’t believe this punk legend ran a marathon!
Joe Strummer Drank 10 Beers The Night Before He Ran A Marathon
Joe Strummer, the late frontman of legendary punk band The Clash, might be one of the most surprising entries on this list. In 1982, as Strummer was at the height of his fame, he ran the Paris Marathon with his girlfriend. Neither had officially registered. After the marathon, a news outlet asked Strummer about his training routine. His answer: "Drink 10 pints of beer the night before the race. Ya got that? And don’t run a single step at least four weeks before the race."
He also allegedly ran in the 1981 and 1983 London Marathons, which there’s no hard evidence of. Sadly, Strummer passed away in 2002 but the stories about his epic runs live on: an athletic company called Satisfy developed a line of clothing bearing his name in 2018. The line includes a running jacket featuring an animal print design and the words "RUN! PUNK! RUN!" on the back.
He’s not the only legendary musician on this list…
Oprah Winfrey Received Criticism From Some Athletes When She Ran A Marathon
In 1994, media mogul Oprah Winfrey ran in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. The then-talk show host finished the race in 4:29:20. She trained for 20 weeks with a personal trainer to prepare for the brutal test of endurance. Afterward, she said that finishing the marathon felt better than winning an Emmy!
Oprah inspired legions of fans to start running in marathons, but she also received flak from some serious athletes who felt that she had “lowered the bar of excellence” for the sport by encouraging out-of-shape people to crowd races across the country. In an article titled “How Oprah ruined the marathon,” a runner named Edward McClelland described her appearance in the Marine Corps race as “a middle-aged woman hauling her flab around the District of Columbia.”
Sean Combs Raised $2 Million For Charity When He Ran A Marathon
In 2003, the rapper and entrepreneur who was then known as P. Diddy ran the New York City Marathon, finishing with an official time of 4:14:54. After the race, he gave a press conference where he said "Never in my life have I ever experienced anything as crazy as this" but went on to say that it had been a "beautiful experience" despite experiencing severe leg cramps throughout the race.
Even better than completing the marathon is that Diddy raised $2 million for charity in the process. The funds were split between two children’s charities and New York City public schools. USA Track & Field named him its Athlete of the Week as a result. Great job, Diddy!
Katie Holmes Registered For Her Marathon Using An Alias
Add actress Katie Holmes to the roster of celebs who have run the New York City Marathon. She competed in the popular race in 2007, finishing in 5:29:58. Holmes had registered under an alias but was spotted by photographers near the end. Her then-husband Tom Cruise and their daughter Suri met her as she crossed the finish line.
Some people don’t believe that Holmes actually ran the race, citing her flimsy jogging bra that couldn’t possibly have provided enough support for a grueling 26.2 miles of running.
Alicia Keys Ran To Help Others
Grammy-award winning singer and musician Alicia Keys is another celeb who opted to run a marathon in order to raise money for a charity that she co-founded. Keep a Child Alive provides life-saving HIV medications, other medical care, psychosocial support, and food for impoverished families in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and India.
Prior to running in the 2015 New York City Marathon, she wrote a column for Refinery29 where she shared her motivation for participating in the race. "I’m all about breaking mental boundaries, and training for a marathon falls right into the Jedi mind-training I need," she said, adding, "my training is nothing compared to the challenging journey these families face every day." Keys finished the marathon in 5:50:52.
Coming up: we’re more used to seeing this star in a bathing suit than in track pants
Pamela Anderson Ditched The Red Swimsuit For Running Clothes
At age 46, former Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson completed the 2013 New York City Marathon. She finished in 5:41:03, which is not exactly a record time but considering that she hadn’t trained at all, pretty impressive.
"I really haven’t attacked the running thing," she confessed in an interview a few weeks before the big run. "I’ve never been a runner. I’ve never even run across the street hardly before." Anderson chose to run the marathon to raise money for Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization and ended up receiving $288,492.
Ryan Reynolds Called Himself "A Running Joke"
Prior to running in the 2008 New York City Marathon, actor Ryan Reynolds penned a column for the Huffington Post in which he explained his decision to run a marathon. “Not since the discovery of Junior High School has torture been so effective. Why on earth would I willfully do this? On behalf of my Father, Jim Reynolds, who’s spent the last 15 years in a life or death struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.”
In typical Reynolds fashion, he added, “Let it be known at the outset, I am not a runner. I am a running joke.” He finished in 3:50:22 — far from a joke time! Additionally, he raised more than $80,000 for Parkinson’s research.
Read on to learn the inspiration behind Flea’s decision to run a marathon.
Uzo Aduba Is A Double Marathoner
Orange is the New Black actress Uzo Aduba has been a runner her entire life — even attending college on an athletic scholarship. So it comes as no surprise that she’s run in two marathons. Her first was the 2013 New York City Marathon which she finished in 5:17:57. Uduba says that she was slowed down in that race by a man who asked her for a selfie at mile 17! How rude!
Then, she ran the 2015 Boston Marathon to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Uduba ran in honor of her friend Andrea Trasher, who had passed away from breast cancer the previous year. She finished the Boston Marathon in 5:03:24.
A Book Inspired Flea To Run A Marathon
In an interview with Runner’s World, Flea said that he’d never really been interested in running until 2011 when he read a book called Born to Run. He says "it really affected me profoundly; the concept of our bodies being used for their real purpose when they’re running." The Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist was inspired to run a marathon just a few months later.
Flea got down to work and started working with a running trainer. He completed the 2011 LA Marathon in 3:52:59. Not too shabby for a first timer!
George W. Bush Runs To Relieve Stress
Yes, even future presidents run marathons. Years before he was sworn in as president, a 46-year-old George W. Bush ran in the 1993 Houston Marathon. He finished with an official time of 3:44:52.
Bush started running in 1972 and hasn’t stopped. After he became president, he sat down for an interview with Runner’s World and had this to say: "It’s interesting that my times have become faster right after the war began. They were pretty fast all along, but since the war began, I have been running with a little more intensity. And I guess that’s part of the stress relief I get from it. For me, the psychological benefit is enormous."
Drew Carey Ran A Marathon As Part Of His Weight-Loss Journey
Many people might not know that Price is Right host Drew Carey served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve for six years before fame came calling. His time in the service led him to run the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon. He also completed the 2011 New York Marathon in 4:37:11.
Carey described his training style to Runner’s World: "Some days I just do an easy 45 minutes. Other days I do high-intensity speed or hill work that gets my heart rate as high as it can go. The only high mileage I do is on weekends—I’m never out there jogging for the heck of it."
Andrea Barber Has Been Known To Dress Up For Her Runs
Most of us know her as dorky Kimmy Gibbler from the 1980s sitcom Full House (and its reboot), but Andrea Barber has another side to her: running fanatic. To date, she’s completed 26 half marathons and three marathons. She even ran two half marathons on the same day in 2017!
Barber says that running completely transformed her life, "especially working in an industry that puts so much emphasis on body image" as she told Runner’s World. "I love my body for what it can do for me and not just how it looks."