Jo May and Doug Beagle have been training and racing together for over three decades and have covered every endurance event from the Kona Ironman to the XTERRA World Trail Run Championship. They have completed a marathon or ultra in each state and are almost finished doing it a second time.
Last year, both Jo and Doug won their 65-69 age groups at the XTERRA World Trail Run Championship. At the XTERRA National Trail Run Championship, they were both third.
XTERRA caught up with the couple and talked about endurance, marriage, and why you should always carry money for pastries when you run.
Jo: We met through triathlons.
Doug: In the early eighties, I was competing in Oklahoma City triathlons and a woman asked me where I trained. She said, ‘Oh, you must know Jo May. You have to meet her.’ I heard Jo May would be at the Texas A&M triathlon so I found her and introduced myself.
Jo: I don’t remember that.
Doug: You didn’t remember me then either.
Jo: My focus is on numbers not people. I’m a tax accountant.
Doug: One of my talents is that I persevere. I just kept calling and calling and it worked out.
Jo: I think maybe our first date was going to lunch. But I know our dates turned into workouts.I was a big swimmer then.
Doug: My strength was not swimming. That took some effort. I was always a runner.
Jo: You did OK.
Doug: We love to talk together. And we love to race together. In the eighties, we would jump into our VW Camper and Jo would pay for our food and gas by winning masters races. We had a lot of good adventures.
I remember one trip to eastern Tennessee. We often chose the roads less traveled. We came to the Mississippi in a storm and the only way across the river was on a ferry that only held two automobiles.
Jo: Think raft.
Doug: Yeah, but there was always good running in Tennessee.
Jo: We transitioned into ultra running after I got hit on my bike by a drunk driver while I was pregnant. But I was lucky. I ended up on grill instead of under the truck.
Doug: We got a baby jogger after that.
Jo: After our daughter was born in 1990, we would go out for three to four hours with the baby jogger. We would watch garbage trucks, cows, pick berries – all the things a baby likes. Running can lead to so many different things.
We’ve seen so much of Europe through running. The U.S. too. We’ve already done a marathon in all fifty states.
Doug: We do about fifteen marathons a year. We’ve qualified for Boston more than 18 times. We were both there in 2014 during the bombing.
Jo: Doug had finished the race, but I was still on the course.
Doug: I was walking back to the hotel and thought an electric transformer exploded. But I had a hunch it was something bad. There were a lot of sirens. I couldn’t reach Jo on my cell phone so I went back to the hotel.
Jo: I was about a mile from the finish and the race officials stopped us. No one knew where we were and most of us didn’t have phones with us on the course.
Doug: I wasn’t worried. We’ve done hundreds of races together and we always do our own thing. I knew she would show up.
Jo: He doesn’t worry. He never worries.
Doug: We eventually met up at the hotel. It was quite chaotic since a lot of people couldn’t get to their keys or phones or wallets in their drop bags. And no one could get across the river.
Jo: The silver lining was that we heard from people we hadn’t heard from in years.
Doug: It was like the Oklahoma City bombing. When something terrible happens, the goodness comes out in people too. The next day, we went to a bakery in Boston and everyone was talking to everyone else.
Jo: We were all just happy to be there.
Doug: Yep. Whenever we run in cities, we carry money so we can stop in bakeries or for coffee. We always meet wonderful people and it’s the best way to discover a new city.
Jo: We meet a lot of people on the trails as well. And we’ve met a lot of great people at XTERRA runs. If you fall, there’s always someone willing to help you up and it’s a wonderful atmosphere.
Doug: You walk into Boston and feel the electricity in the air. In Kona, you feel the anxiety and anticipation. In XTERRA races, everyone is low key. Whether someone is ahead of me or behind me, there isn’t that negative energy.
Jo: I think we will stay with running as long as we can. You can get a lot of running in without a huge time commitment. And, you can run in the dark. You can’t bike or swim in the dark.
Doug: We live near the trails in Houston, so most days we get up and go. I think that’s the secret as we’ve gotten older. I only run on soft surfaces and stay off pavement.
Jo: If you’re looking for dirt, you can find dirt.
Doug: On Wednesdays, we meet friends at 5:30 AM and do five to eight miles on trails.
Jo: We run more slowly now so we don’t get injured. I’ve traded speed for health.
Doug: I did get hurt three years ago in the Breckenridge Marathon. I fell and hit my shoulder on a rock.
Jo: Of course he finished the race.
Doug: We cross train too. I go to the gym a few times a week and Jo and I still swim.
Jo: Running keeps you on an even keel. My job is stressful during tax season but I always make time to run because I’m so much more efficient throughout my day.
Doug: Even if you aren’t a morning person, you can start a new habit. It might be tough to get started, but you will feel so much better in the day if you exercise. Get someone to meet you at 5:30 am. Find a reason to get out the door.
Jo: Or just set your alarm an hour earlier.
Doug: Running lets you see what you are made of inside. We have no plans to stop.