What’s more exciting than setting a Guinness world record? Setting three.
Woodstock’s Salacnib “Sonny” Molina did just that this past weekend with a whirlwind half-marathon — well, marathon — culminating in Chicago.
Molina, a nurse on the orthopedic surgical team at Centegra Hospital-McHenry, secured a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the record-holder in three running categories: most half-marathons completed within a month, most half-marathons completed in consecutive days and most half-marathons completed barefoot in consecutive days.
“I just started running at age 40. I had never run before,” the now 44-year-old said. “I started running four years ago because I was challenged by friends. I like a challenge, so I started running. My first race was a marathon.”
It was shortly after that race Molina wondered what he could do to alleviate foot pain. After researching, Molina found barefoot running might be a possible solution and has been shown to help with hip and knee pain as well.
“There was a marathon in Iowa. I just decided to remove my shoes for that race,” Molina said. “And I haven’t worn shoes [while training or during races] since.”
On Aug. 27 in Wisconsin, Molina began his bid to run the most half-marathons in 30 days.
“It is a lot of work to do this. I had to call to make sure that each race was certified and accepted by the Guinness officials. I had to wear a Go-Pro [camera] the entire time, so I had to make sure it was charged and ready to go for every race. I had to take pictures, make calls and have paperwork completed by race officials,” Molina explained. “It was also hard to find races to do during the week, too.”
In order to achieve his goal, Molina traveled all over the United States in a carefully planned trip. From Wisconsin to Michigan, Texas to Colorado, North Dakota to South Dakota, he kept pressing forward. Race after race, flight after flight, drive after drive, Molina continued to run – without shoes, but with a passion unmatched by most.
He ended his 30 days with a run in Chicago at the Chicago Half Marathon Sept. 25. With that run, he completed 18 half-marathons in 30 days, 11 consecutive half-marathons and 11 consecutive barefoot half-marathons.
“It means the world to know that my [friends could be] there at the finish line. It is incredibly special to finish here. I did everything I could. I am so proud,” Molina said.
“I want to thank my family, the race directors, the time keepers. I want to thank the other participants. They kept me going on these races,” he said. “It is something I won’t ever forget; it is an out-of-this-world experience,” Molina said.
For the Woodstock nurse, the attention he has received for not only setting records but also for running barefoot has been huge.
“It is a dream come true,” said Molina of his record-setting performances. “It feels incredible.”