ALBION Park's Rick Patzold has set a new record for official marathons run on Australian soil in a calendar year after competing in his 23rd marathon for the year on November 17.
The event, at Marysville in Victoria, allowed him to easily eclipse Graham Kerruish's total of 20, set in 1994.
The 48-year-old first became hooked on marathons after a neck injury ended his rugby league career in 2001.
"I thought I would slow down after reaching my 100th marathon at the Gold Coast in July last year, but have now powered on, with my tally sitting at 135 in 12 years since my first marathon at Sydney in October 2001," Patzold said.
"I guess when you find something in life that you love, you pursue it.
"I played my last game of rugby league aged 36, having played for 24 consecutive seasons."
But a lot of Patzold's motivation comes from the memory of his mother, who passed away from cancer when he was just 13.
"I used to come home from school, get in my running gear and just run - I just couldn't bear to see my mum in pain - and getting out and running until dark was my way of handling it," he said.
He said winning the Oak Flats High School year 7 cross country was still his greatest memory.
"[Mum] was so proud of me - it is still one of my happiest memories," he said.
His personal best was set in 2003 at the Gold Coast when he ran 2:57:45.
"I still don't know how that happened," Patzold said.
"I plan to be a 3:15 runner on a good day when injury free, having achieved that time or better on nine occasions in 2012."
His other highlights include winning the Wagga Wagga Marathon in 2007, being inducted into the Blue Line Legends in 2012 by Glenn McGrath as one of only 10 runners to have completed all 13 editions of the Sydney Marathon, and becoming the 36th registered Australian to have run 100 marathons.
As for the future, Patzold said he enjoyed the healthy lifestyle benefits and saw himself running marathons for the rest of his life.
He believed he would surpass the Australian record of 312 marathons some time in the next 15 years, but he has another target in his sights.
"It would be great to one day say that Oak Flats High not only produced an Australian test cricketer, Brett Lee, who took 310 test wickets, but also some mad bugger that ran 310 marathons," he said.
"Who knows, I might even persuade Brett to run that one with me."