Sanibel Runner Joins Elite Group of Six Star Finishers In Tokyo

by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes

Sanibel resident Jeff Muddell earns the Six Star Medal in Tokyo. Photo provided

Jeff Muddell joined an elite group of runners known as the Six Star Finishers, after he crossed the finish line last weekend at the Tokyo Marathon. He is now one of 10,000 people from around the world, and just 2,000 Americans, who have competed in and completed all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors to earn the coveted six stars.

“The race was amazing,” said Muddell of the Tokyo Marathon. “I had fun with the runners, the crowds, and the volunteers. I’ve that during each of these marathons. It takes my mind off the fact I’m running 26 long miles.”

It took Muddell a long seven years to join the elite Six Star group, after a two-year delay by the pandemic. But he was motivated by a promise he made to his children at a time when he was at his lowest. This incredible running journey started with a cancer diagnosis.

Muddell was just 40 years old when he received the news of testicular cancer. “It was a shocking diagnosis and tough treatment,” he said.

Muddell rings the bell on his cancer

In the fall of 2015 – at the end of his chemotherapy, he was bald, felt depleted and dealing with blood clots in his lungs which led to hospital stays – he promised his kids he would get up, get strong and recover to run the New York City Marathon, a race he took part in a decade earlier.

“I did just that,” said Muddell. He ran the 2016 NYC Marathon almost one year to the day of being released from the hospital. “But my journey was just beginning.” He then learned of the World Marathon Majors commonly called the “Six Star” Marathons. These races take place in Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York City and Tokyo.

“When I learned about the Majors and the quest of many to become a ‘Six Star Finisher,’ I knew I had to jump in to prove to my children that you can get through tough times and celebrate recovery,” said Muddell. And the races became a family event with the Muddell children participating in mini-marathons along the way.

Two years after running the NYC Marathon, Muddell took part in the Chicago Marathon. He then crossed the pond in 2019 to race in the London Marathon in the spring and Berlin in the fall. Checking off two races from his list in one year. The final two, Boston and Tokyo, had to wait when the pandemic hit.

He made it to Boston in 2021 and finally reached Tokyo on March 5, seven years after the journey began. He finished Tokyo in 4:51:25, not his best time, but not his worse. “I spent a lot of time on the back half just soaking things in,” said Muddell.

Jeff Muddell competes in each of the Six Star marathons.

“It’s been a blessing to do this,” he said of earning the Six Star Medal. “Knowing there are only 10,000 people in the world to do this, and only 2,000 Americans, it does feel special. But to think about how I felt seven years ago, and that I’ve made it here, I’m so fortunate.”

Throughout his running journey, Muddell worked hard to raise awareness of testicular cancer. “It’s a common and very treatable disease in men that unfortunately still claims more than 400 young lives a year in the United States,” he said. “Not many young men talk about their testicles, but they should. It could save their life.”

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