East Nasty of the Week: Mark Spencer

You need to know that in our very first e-mail exchange, Mark Spencer used the word amazeballs. It was at that very moment that I realized that Mark was the perfect choice for East Nasty of the week.

Surprisingly, in just a few minutes of conversation, I found myself using the word as well. You see, Mark Spencer’s life is completely, irrefutably amazeballs.

In the past fifteen years, this 38-year-old Brit (and now American citizen!) has lived in Hong Kong, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Tampa, Singapore, and, of course, Nashville. He’s traveled to five continents, spent most of last winter sailing from Mauritius to Cape Town, South Africa, and taught the art of Indian, Malay, and Singaporean cooking. He’s eaten deep fried tarantulas, stinky tofu, and ants egg soup. Somehow, after taking up running in 2011, he’s also found time to run countless races on four continents: half-marathons, sprint triathlons, a dozen 5k’s and more. Oh yeah, and over the last year, he has run a marathon every six weeks.

Phew, I’m tired just typing all that while drinking this glass of wine on my couch in my sweatpants. But Mark isn’t tired. In just three weeks he’ll head to Cleveland, Ohio, to run his next marathon, then to Boone, N.C., in July, for 26.2 more. Apparently the Boone race is particularly arduous, Mark says, “one for the true masochists!”

Mark, racing in Thailand.

And though Mark takes his masochism in jest: my jaw continues to drop as he explains the journey that brought him to Nashville and to East Nasty.

Working for years in a corporate finance job, he “hopscotched” his way to Nashville, where he began culinary school at Nashville State, while continuing to work at night. On his last day of culinary classes in 2008, Mark was laid off from his corporate job. He worked at Sweet 16th bakery in East Nashville before reconnecting with a corporate-world colleague who invited him to work for a bit in Hong Kong. And of course, he took the bait.

While in Asia just last year, Mark completed his first marathon in Singapore, and followed it up with an even faster marathon finish in Thailand just two weeks later. No biggie.

This year, he returned to Nashville, and finally living on the east side, started attending Wednesday night runs, where Mark says, he met some of the most “fun, intellectual, creative and groovy people you could ever hope to spend time with.”

Mark, racing in South Africa.

Now, in his marathon-every-six-weeks training regimen, Mark runs between 40-65 miles a week, and pushes himself for what he calls “mental therapy.” To him, running is a privilege that not every person has the time or freedom to enjoy. He’s even planning a 450-mile run for charity that will take three weeks to run, at a pace of 25-miles per day. Wait, what? Yep. 25 miles per day.

But ladies, if you’re imagining what it would be like to join Mark in his global travels, cheer on his racing adventures, and enjoy his culinary creations, I’m sorry happy to report that he is in fact taken. Mark met his uber-talented girlfriend and fellow East Nasty, Kara Monroe at 3 Crow after a Wednesday night run. Mark jokes that it was a real two-for-one special! The couple shares a deep love for culture, art, music, literature, cinema, community, and of course… running.

Mark + Kara

Make sure to congratulate Mark on his ENOW honor while I go take a nap. All this amazeballs adventure-seeking has really worn me out.


7 Responses to East Nasty of the Week: Mark Spencer

  1. Cheytown says:

    My friend, my homeboy, the “natural”…..congratulations, buddy! Those that know Mark know how hard it would be to fit his bio in just one write-up, so kudos to Claire on this GREAT read! ENFL

  2. Mark says:

    A big huge thank you to Claire for such a great write up & for being so patient to listen while I rambled on at a mile a minute while chatting on the phone just after a run 🙂

    And for background the first photo is taken just after finishing the Chattanooga Seven Bridges marathon (and my PR race at 3:17), the second is running with the Hash House Harriers in Cambodia and the Nashville tri pic is at the Music City tri event pictured with THE Andy Moss who was a massive help that day and many times since :-))

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