Editor’s note: This story is part of the CDT’s Active Life special section.
Like another affable real estate agent, Tom Cali has three children and an easygoing stride.
Like Ty Burrell, the actor who plays the character Phil Dunphy on ABC’s “Modern Family,” Cali also has a Penn State degree.
But neither Burrell nor his character can outpace State College’s “Running Realtor.”
Cali, 62, has completed at least 35 marathons, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, with another planned for the fall. Most have come later in life; he clocked his best time (2 hours, 48 minutes at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.) as a 54-year-old.
The Scranton-area native won his age group at the Steamtown Marathon, a favorite, multiple times. At last year’s Boston Marathon, he placed fourth in the 60-64 age group, crossing in 3:04:28.
“When I moved, I just decided I needed to get back in shape when I was in my mid-30s,” he said. “I decided I’d try running again, and started running with a group at Rec Hall at noon time.
“I’ve been running at Rec Hall at noon with my group ever since.”
Running hasn’t been the only renaissance in Cali’s life. He began his career as an accountant, but realized he wanted something more people-oriented.
Almost four decades later, the agent with RE/MAX Centre Realty has run right into the company’s hall of fame.
“Sometimes running a marathon is easier than selling a property,” he said, laughing. “But I think most of the time running a marathon is much more difficult than selling a property. I find that most of my real estate transactions go very smoothly, and it’s just pain-free. Most marathons are not pain-free.”
In 2016, he was honored with the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Distinguished Citizen Award for his contributions to the community, which include helping raise more than $500,000 to support Centre Volunteers in Medicine, a local free medical and dental clinic.
He has been a member of Marathoners for Medicine, a group that runs for charitable causes, for more than a decade. The marathon man sponsors about 15 races per year.
Below, Cali, who runs about 50 miles per week during marathon training, shared how he’s kept his pace over the years.
Q: How did you get involved with supporting charitable causes through your running?
A: I was a high school runner, but I started running again when I moved here in 1990. I became a more competitive runner, and since I ran a lot of races, I got involved in the Nittany Valley Running Club. I decided a good way to help the community and a good way to help the sport would be to sponsor races.
Q: Do you feel like you’re getting better with age?
A: I was (laughs). I peaked kind of in my 50s. I ran my fastest marathon when I was 54. A lot of us who aren’t professional runners, our goal is to get under three hours, and I ran most of my under-three hour times in my 50s. Now that I’m in my 60s I’m slowing down (laughs).
(As a 60-year-old in 2015, Cali ran under three hours at the Steamtown Marathon.)
Q: Any tips for the rest of us? How do we run marathons into our 60s?
A: I think the key is to have a regular running schedule. I think it’s helped me that I know at noon I’m going out for a run. I know there are some days I can’t make it due to this or that, but generally I try to run at the same time every day, and having a group to run with helps quite a bit. Then a little bit of cross training, a little bit of lifting, stretching — that always helps.
Q: As a runner and a real estate agent, do you find any parallels between the two?
A: I think they both involve perseverance, hard work, a good mental attitude, setting goals and achieving those goals.