Troy and Cathie Johnson did a lot of running around in 2018.

The couple is looking to scale back somewhat in 2019.

However, the Red Boiling Springs running tandem is entitled to do so after their busiest year.

“We’ll probably do 25 or 30 (marathons in 2019) but nothing like this year,” Troy Johnson said. “This was a little expensive year.”

The Johnsons reached their goal of finishing 300 marathons on Sept. 11.

“Our first goal was to do the 50 states,” Cathie Johnson said of running a marathon in each of the United States. “Then, we wanted to do the 100. Then, we were close to doing the states twice.”

Troy Johnson added, “We had so many and wanted to get to 100. Then, hey, we were trying to do the 300, and we were close. We wanted to get to 300, so we started doing all of these (last year).”

According to the World Mega Marathon list, there are eight Tennesseans who have completed 300 marathons, 138 runners in the United States and 726 in the world.

The Johnsons completed 56 marathons together in 2018. Cathie Johnson actually completed 58, running two when her husband was suffering from an injury.

In fact, during one 365-day span, they completed 62 marathons.

“It gets to you,” Troy Johnson said. “We were going to do nine in 11 days.  We did Oregon, Washington, Idaho …”

Prior to this year, the most that they had done in one year was 37, which they did in 2002.

“We tried to run all seven continents in seven days,” Troy Johnson said. “We got six of them. They couldn’t land the plane in Antarctica to do the seventh one. So, we did it on the 11th day.”

Troy Johnson started running when he joined the United States Army in 1965. He served in the Army for 21 years.

Cathie Johnson began running later on while the couple was living in Germany, after she quit smoking and gained 20 pounds. They actually began to run together doing Volksmarches – which are either 10-kilometer or 20-kilometer walks/runs – while stationed in Germany, which spanned from 1980-84.

The couple ran its first marathon in Memphis in 1996.

“We were always doing 5 and 10Ks (races),” Troy Johnson said. “I was working at the VA (the Department of Veterans Affairs) in Nashville. A nurse there was running about seven marathons a year. She said, ‘Y’all need to run a marathon.’

“I never intended to run more than one. That was our goal.”

One year later, the organizers of that marathon sent the couple of an application to run in the same marathon again, and the date of the marathon happened to coincide with their 25th wedding anniversary. They decided to run it again together and chose to run marathons in Indiana and Georgia prior to the Memphis marathon.

They met people who were in the process of running marathons in all 50 states, and they wanted to do the same. Troy Johnson compiled a five-year schedule to accomplish that, and they completed that goal in October of 2002 when they crossed the finish line in Connecticut.

“We probably have 1,000 people who are our buddies,” Troy Johnson said of their fellow runners.

They ran a marathon in all 50 states again, accomplishing that for a second time in 2014, and they are three states away from doing it for a third time.

They started doing multiples in 2011. Multiples consist of running marathons on back-to-back days.

They actually completed nine marathons in nine days, spanning from Dec. 24, 2011 through Jan. 1, 2012.

“It’s a mind thing,” Cathie Johnson said.

Their best time is 3:53, which they accomplished 21 years ago. They hovered around the four-hour mark after that.

“We used to race each other to the finish line … when we were younger,” Troy Johnson said. “We stay together. Most couples don’t do that. If I have a bad day, she stays with me. If she has a bad day, I stay with her.”

Troy Johnson had back surgery and a hip replacement in 2015.

Nowadays, a good time consists of completing the marathon in six hours.

“We do a lot of (alternating) walk-run,” Cathie Johnson said.

Troy Johnson added, “If a race has a close cutoff time (which sometimes is six hours), we push it to do it (in under six hours).”

Troy Johnson – who is now 71 years old – retired from the military in 1987 and then retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2007. Cathie Johnson – who is now 65 – retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs one month later, in January of 2008.

The retirement allows them to have more freedom as they travel to run marathons in distant places.

“When we go, especially overseas, we go for a minimum of two weeks,” Troy Johnson said.

The couple has their favorites.

“It’s not so much the course but the atmosphere,” Cathie Johnson said. “Disney (Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend) is fun, but Disney has gotten outrageous. They do a month of marathons.

“Hatfield McCoy (Marathon) in West Virginia is a fun one. The Air Force (Marathon) in Dayton (Ohio) is fun. One of our favorites is Egypt (the Egyptian Marathon). There so much history, the tombs and pyramids. It’s mind-boggling.”

One of the most challenging for the Johnsons was the Delaware Marathon.

“Delaware was a trial,” Cathie Johnson said. “It was up and down hills. You had to crawl over trees. You had to go across water twice. It was tough with the hills, the rocks and the ruts.”

The Johnsons – who have resided on the farm of Cathie Johnson’s father for the last 13 years – were inducted into the Macon County Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. The couple owns two Guinness Book of World Records – for having the fastest time for a married couple to complete a marathon on each continent (12 days, 3 hours, 36 minutes, and 41 seconds) and for being the oldest married couple to complete a marathon on each continent (with an aggregate age of 129 years and 109 days).

The average entry fee for a marathon is $100.

Cathie Johnson has completed 322 marathons, with Troy Johnson at 320.

Their goal in 2019 is to enter the Marathon Maniacs Hall of Fame, which consists of runners who have completed 333 lifetime marathons or ultramarathons (which are longer than a traditional marathon).

They’ll begin that process with a multiple, running the Mississippi Blues Marathon in Jackson, Mississippi, on Jan. 26 and then with the Big Beach Marathon the next day in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

“It’s a satisfaction,” Cathie Johnson said. “You’re tired and have aches and pains, but it’s a self-satisfaction.”