About Me

My name is Joe and I am a drive-thru runner.

All of this started back in 1998 when I ran my first Chicago Marathon. After completing it in 4:16, I proclaimed there would be no more marathons. But, that didn’t last long. I came back to Chicago the next year and slid under four hours with a 3:59. At that point, there was no doubt, I was hooked. I kept running and running…

Fast forward to 2005. I ramped up the running and got serious about marathoning. At times, the training was more difficult than some of my previous marathons. But, the training paid off in a big way as I lowered my PR from 3:23 to 3:07. I was finally going to Boston.

So here we are today. I have completed 17 marathons, including Boston and New York. My personal best time sits at 2:36:14, set at the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon.

It was at the LA Marathon where I earned the name “McRunner” and solidified my “drive-thru runner” status. For the 30 days leading up to the marathon, I ate only McDonald’s. Along the way I trained hard and fundraised for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). The result? A personal best time and over $40,000 raised for RMHC.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.”
- Ray Kroc

Email me: joe@mcrunner.com

22 Responses to About Me

  1. JJ says:


    Have you happen to record physiologic data changes or get general heath professional assessments during this experience? It would be nice to compare changes in health from the diet when accompanied by rigorous exercise to that with a sedentary lifestyle as portrayed in “Super Size Me”.

  2. ka says:

    OK, your whole mcdonalds thing is BS. You run about 10 miles a day ( Roughly) and you eat small portions of the mc stuff. i wonder how you do it??? easy portion control and really when you run that much it is gone before you know it. Good luck on your run, but beef up your meals like most of the american people and you wouldn’t make it. Most people dont eat 1/3 of a medium fry???? Start pounding down 4 cheese, 1 large fry and 6 piece mcnugget and you would be considered a fast food eater

    • Jason says:

      Which proves a point. The main problem with the North American lifestyle is volume of food and lack of exercise. The first requirement for food is to get enough of it, the second is to avoid getting too much of it, and the third is nutritional value.

    • Lisa S. says:

      Who says that you HAVE to walk into a McDonald’s and order enough food for 2 or 3 people and then eat it all yourself? Nobody. It’s called self-control. Obviously, Joe has it. Some people don’t. And if you don’t have self-control, fast food places will become your enemy. I eat fast food, and 6 McNuggets, a large fry, and 4 cheeseburgers would be at least 3 meals for me. Last time I checked, they didn’t have people standing around the fast food dining area, cramming 6,000 calories down your throat with a crowbar. Make better choices for yourself, and you might not feel the need to hate on those who are already doing so.

  3. liz says:

    ka: did Joe ever claim that he was eating the typical American fast food diet? Seems to me that he just likes to eat McDonald’s and thought it would be fun to see if he could run a marathon on it. I would be curious to see the results of bloodwork too, but it might surprise you. There is a very strong genetic component to cholesterol and high blood pressure. Joe might just not be all that influenced by fast food, where someone who is genetically susceptible to high cholesterol and blood pressure might.

    In any case, good luck Joe and good on you for raising money for a worth-while charity!

  4. Your story is pretty incredible! It’s amazing that your body can turn what you’re eating into fuel! So, what is your secret to going from a 4:16 marathoner to a 2:36 marathoner?
    Is it gifting? Mega miles and tons of speedwork? My current best is a 3:35 marathon and shooting now to go under 3:30. Any tips?

  5. warmz says:

    Good luck with your PB attempt. I hope the run on the day goes well for you! Personally I do not like to eat McDonalds junk food I would much rather give my $ to farmers and buy fresh simple food. It just makes more sense to me. Your current PB is very inspirational .. Have great day!

  6. Matt says:

    Good luck at the marathon, Joe! As a fellow runner and mileage junkie, I’m glad to see someone getting some press for hitting the pavement.

    That said, I’m bummed to see you talking about eating at McDonald’s like it’s a good thing. If you follow the food from the ground to your mouth, nothing but negative things are happening. The grains are grown with pesticides and herbicides on factory farms using intensive factory farming methods that put small farmers out of work, destroy the soil, and rely on underpaid immigrants. The animals are grown in tiny enclosures and pumped full of hormones and pesticide/herbicide-laden food (again using factory farming methods) and then slaughtered in factories where worker safety and sanity, not to mention animal welfare, are secondary. Then your food is shipped long distances, burning up fuel and adding pollution to the atmosphere, to a corporate restaurant that pays its workers chump change, laces its packaging with noxious chemicals to hide the grease, and stuffs our already overfilled landfills with useless waste.

    So that’s the food before it enters your mouth. I’ll tell you this right now: running alone won’t lower your cholesterol or your blood pressure or ward off cancer. Skinny guys have heart attacks and strokes and get cancer, too. As you age, you’ll find you can’t treat your body like a garbage can much longer, no matter how many miles you log (I’m surprised you’ve made it this far).

    If you run well at LA, imagine how much better you would run — and feel — if you ate more locally grown fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, and lean protein.

    Imagine, too, how much you would contribute to the world. You would lower pollution, contribute to the local economy, and spare animals unnecessary suffering. You would actually make a difference, for real.

    Right now, what you’re doing might get you some press, but it’s not doing anyone any good.

    • Andy says:


      No one will argue with you that locally grown, organic fruits are vegetables are more healthy and better for the environment than processed foods with perservatives that are shipped long distances. However, my guess is that if you look at your own life, you could find several instances where your choices as a consumer could be questioned. How far do you drive to and from work everyday? Where were your running shoes made? Even if you walk to work and run barefoot, I’m sure there are other things in your life that someone can criticize.

      Like McRunner (and billions of other people in the world), I like McDonalds because it tastes good and it is cheap. Based on yesterday’s post “Travel Hopefully” I feel confident that our friend McRunner is net plus to this world. I’m glad he is out there evangelizing about the benefits of running and McDonalds.

      • Matt says:

        Point well taken, Andy.

        As it happens, I telecommute (points in my favor) but buy super affordable “boutique” running shoes (Vitruvian Running) that are designed by a guy out of his house in the U.S. but manufactured in Indonesia, if I remember correctly (points against).

        We all can do more. I guess I just don’t see the point of giving McDonald’s any more customers or money, considering the widespread damage the company inflicts on people and our planet, especially when there so many better choices, health-wise and ethics-wise readily available.

        But again, I agree with the gist of your argument. Time to reexamine my own life. Off the top of my head, I know one change I can make starting today: shorter showers (a typical runner, I enjoy long, hot showers).

        • Stan says:

          I think you’re kind of missing the big point… while the may not be the healthiest, organic, local-grown whatever… as a company they run an organization that helps families in need. By eating at a fast food joint and making it public, McRunner is raising money and awareness of a charity that helps families across the nation have a home while their child is receiving life-saving medical treatments. I bet your “boutique” running shoes can’t say that.

          Have you ever volunteered at a Ronald McDonald house? Maybe that might be a more logical sacrifice than “shorter showers”.

  7. Yeah I used to do a lot of running as well… mainly to the bathroom after eating anything at McDonalds. Best of luck.

  8. john says:

    Good job Joe. I too run, I am a proud member of the ten minute mile club, I do marathons and have done one 50k. One more 50k in a couple of weeks. Your food log from McD’s is exactly what I would order from them. But i never ever order Fries or a hamburger or chicken nuggets (If it’s fried, it ain’t food). Their Fruit Parfaits are fun, pancakes, grilled chicken etc are great, and the salads are the same bits of lettuce you get anywhere. If they only had more fruit and fresh veggies, I could probably eat well at a MickeyD’s.

    Good luck.


  9. Justin says:

    A healthy body can convert almost anything edible into fuel. In that respect, Mcdonald’s food is just as good as “healthy” alternatives. Go for it man!

  10. Clarissa says:

    Good luck on your marathon – hope you achieve your PR!

  11. Jeanie says:

    Oh brother. There always has to be those out there just waiting to jump on and criticize someone for what they are doing, how they are doing it, WHEN they are doing it, how MUCH they are doing it………….. Looks to me like you are doing pretty good for yourself. And along with that, not too bad for the Ronald McDonald House Charities either. God bless you, I wish you luck in your marathon.

  12. Quinn C. says:

    Hey Joe, what’s your bib number so we can follow your progress in the race?

  13. Bernie says:

    Joe, congrats on your accomplishment in a tough LA marathon!

    Great blog, too.

  14. ann says:

    Congradulations Joe on your great time and raising money and awareness of Ronald McDonald’s House, Enjoy you down time and your family. They should be so proud. Like your lab results after eating McDonald’s food only before the marathon you ran. You are right we can eat fast foods but need to exercise and limit the amount of food we eat. Any words of wisdom to help motivate a 60 year old female who is over weight and not fit???????????

  15. mcdonalds says:

    Really good to see what you have been doing

    From way over in the UK

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