Minnesota man’s epic challenge motivates runners everywhere

A Minnesota man is on the last leg of a massive accomplishment. 

He may be the first person to ever complete what he calls the Calendar Club 365 Challenge. It’s a daily running challenge that’ll have him tally more than 6,000 miles.

Mark Dowdle is on an epic run. Wherever he is and whatever the weather, he heads outside and meets the Calendar Club 365 Challenge.

That’s where you run one mile for whatever date of the month, so one mile on the first, two on the second, and so on until 31 miles on the 31st.

People usually do it for a month. Dowdle quit his full-time job to finish off a full year.

FOX 9's Corin Hoggard caught up with Dowdle on April 11, and headed out for 11 miles.

Dowdle actually did the month-long challenge in April 2020, but someone told him he was soft for doing a 30-day month.

So he stepped it up and started down a path it seemed nobody had run before.

"People ask me, 'How are you able to run 20 miles and then wake up the next day and do 21 miles and then 22, 23?'" Dowdle said. "And I think what has happened over the course of the challenge, that's become my new normal."

He added a few extra miles along the way, running from Duluth to Minneapolis, and doubling his mileage in February by adding the treadmill challenge.

And like a certain movie character, the legend has grown along his path.

"I get the Forrest Gump comparison," Dowdle said, sounding exasperated. "Like every day."

He’s more guru than Gump, but running seems to be a spiritual experience for both.

Social media like TikTok, Instagram and Strava help Dowdle spread his philosophy that you can set your mind on a challenge, achieve it or fail, then move forward to a new goal.

"He really brings a ton of energy when you're running, when you're out with him, and it's very motivating to just be around him," said Gabe Hanson, who works at Embrace North, where Dowdle often starts his runs and where he recuperates in the sauna and cold baths.

Hanson had gone as far as nine miles with Dowdle. He pledged to do 30 on the last day of the challenge, and he expects Mark to hold him accountable.

"I'm not out here trying to recruit a bunch of runners," Mark said. "I'm out here trying to recruit a bunch of people that have that mindset and that approach to what they're taking on in their life."

When it all comes to an end in three weeks, Dowdle says he’ll take a day off and then run on to his next challenge, which is yet to be determined.