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updated: 3/14/2011 3:21 PM

Palatine McRunner has unique marathon diet

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  • George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.com Joe D'Amico receives a check for $500 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago from Suzanne Conley owner of the McDonald's in Riverwoods on Wednesday, March 9th.

      George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.com Joe D'Amico receives a check for $500 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago from Suzanne Conley owner of the McDonald's in Riverwoods on Wednesday, March 9th.

  • George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.comJoe D'Amico ate a classic premium chicken sandwich and salad for dinner and his wife Sarah had a cheese burger at the McDonald's in Riverwoods on Wednesday.

      George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.comJoe D'Amico ate a classic premium chicken sandwich and salad for dinner and his wife Sarah had a cheese burger at the McDonald's in Riverwoods on Wednesday.

  • George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.comJoe D'Amico eating dinner at the McDonald's in Riverwoods on Wednesday, March 9th. D'Amico is training for the LA marathon by eating only McDonald's food for 30 straight days to raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses.

      George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.comJoe D'Amico eating dinner at the McDonald's in Riverwoods on Wednesday, March 9th. D'Amico is training for the LA marathon by eating only McDonald's food for 30 straight days to raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses.

  • George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.comJoe D'Amico eats a classic premium chicken sandwich for dinner with his wife Sarah at the McDonald's in Riverwoods on Wednesday, March 9th. D'Amico is training for the LA marathon by eating only McDonald's food for 30 straight days to raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses.

      George LeClaire/gleclaire@dailyherald.comJoe D'Amico eats a classic premium chicken sandwich for dinner with his wife Sarah at the McDonald's in Riverwoods on Wednesday, March 9th. D'Amico is training for the LA marathon by eating only McDonald's food for 30 straight days to raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses.

 

Anyone who feasts on 65 hot cakes, 46 cookies and 16 hamburgers in the span of three weeks is typically going to expand a waist line, not achieve a personal best marathon time.

But that's just the kind of challenge Joe D'Amico -- also known as McRunner -- is after.

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Looking to make his latest 26.2-mile test of endurance especially interesting, the 36-year-old Palatine man decided to consume only McDonald's for the 30 days leading up to the March 20 Los Angeles Marathon.

"I felt the need to challenge myself and decided to combine two things I love: McDonald's and running," D'Amico said. "My wife said I was crazy, so that solidified it for me."

What started as a personal journey and some entries in his blog, "Confessions of a Drive-through Runner," quickly evolved into something much bigger for D'Amico, who has dubbed himself McRunner.

He's now out to raise $5,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. He's racked up more than 1,300 Facebook fans in recent days, and is personally donating $1 for every fan up to $2,500.

He also tracks the number of visits he's made to his favorite fast-food joint (65), what he eats and the number of miles he's run (271).

Oak Brook-based McDonald's Corp. caught wind of the McRunner hoopla and Suzanne Conley, owner/operator of the Milwaukee Avenue McDonald's in Riverwoods, donated $500 to his efforts Thursday. D'Amico is a frequent customer at Conley's restaurant, located near his job at Discover Financial Services.

D'Amico, who has a 2-year-old daughter with wife Sarah, is confident he'll complete his 15th marathon under his previous best time of two hours and 36 minutes, likely placing him among the top-50 finishers.

Critics have been quick to point out the 2004 documentary "Super Size Me," in which filmmaker Morgan Spurlock gained nearly 25 pounds by consuming only McDonald's for 30 days.

But D'Amico said he incorporates menu items such as oatmeal, fruit and walnut salads into his diet. And he's always been a snacker who practices portion control.

"Some people think I'm nuts because I'll eat one-quarter of a small fry (order), but that's just who I am," D'Amico said.

"Once you put yourself out there, you become a target. So I'm just focused on having fun and running fast."

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