Meet the 82-year-old Princeton priest hand cycling to his 86th marathon


PRINCETON, Wis. (WMTV) – At 82-years-young Father Dale Grubba of Princeton, is readying to handcycle the New York City Marathon.

In training mode, you can find Father Grubba seven days a week hand cycling down the stretch of Canal Street in Princeton. “Even though I don’t live on this street, I’m a resident of this street in many ways,” laughed Grubba.

Grubba is an athlete in every sense of the word, dating back 42 years when he signed up to run his first marathon on a whim.

“And after about six or seven weeks you forget the pain of it so you think oh I could do another one, and that led to another one…” Grubba said. “It just got in my blood and you associate with all sorts of people and that becomes the thing I think that attracts me back time and again.”

With a firm grip on competitive racing, Father Grubba is now closing in on 86 marathons, 22 of which have been completed from the driving seat of a handcycle.

It’s a shift in competitive racing Grubba made after a knee replacement and back injury. “I wore the bottom half of my body out and now I’m wearing the top half out and when I do that then it’s time to go back to God,” Grubba said.

From conducting Mass on Sundays to cycling 26.2 miles time and time again Father Grubba attributes his success to always saying ‘yes.’

“That’s a lesson that I often tell young people too,” Grubba started. “Never turn down a challenge because it can lead to some of the most fruitful things you’ll ever do in life.”

Sunday, Nov. 6 Father Grubba is taking his sermon to the streets of New York City, wheeling to his way to yet another photo finish.

“Some people might consider what I do extreme but at the same time I celebrated my 82nd birthday and I’m in good shape, and I just think back, yes I’ve done these marathons and I’ve run shorter races and long races but at the same time I’ve been able to maintain my health too,” Grubba said. “And that’s a real good feeling, real good.”

Father Grubba says he’s taking life in stride, one cycle a a time. “I have always looked at the positive, focused on the positive and as a result I’ve just lived my dream.”

Grubba has run the New York City Marathon 18 times, the Boston Marathon 11 times and the list of accolades continues. Follow Father Grubba’s story at Father Dale Grubba and Friends Facebook Page.

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