Chip Gaines Opens Up About His 'Grueling' First Marathon: 'I Could Barely Move'

The former Fixer Upper star reveals why he wants to keep running, despite the "tough" experience he had in his first race

Chip Gaines completed his first marathon — but it wasn’t a pain-free experience.

In a post on the Magnolia blog, the former Fixer Upper star detailed his “tough” experience running the first Silo District Marathon, a race he started with wife Joanna in 2018.

“Last year, I took on the full marathon and after running those 26.2 miles, I was numb and literally had nothing left in me,” Gaines writes. “As I crossed the finish line, I was so out of gas that I could barely move, much less see the incredible things happening all around me.”

“I don’t think I had ever done something that grueling, that physically tough (and I mean TOUGH) my entire life,” he continues.

During this year’s Silo District Marathon, Gaines opted for a shorter race — the 13.1 mile half marathon — where he pushed baby Crew across the finish line. The less strenuous task meant he was “able to process and really see the amazing people crossing the finish line one right after another — each a miracle in their own right.”

“Folks from all over the world and from every walk of life were running side by side, accomplishing their goal — a goal they’d each presumably been training for and working toward for months, some, even years,” the dad of five writes. “I saw able bodies and disabled bodies. I saw ‘runners’ as well as average folks, like me, who don’t at all look the party. It was right then and there that it clicked with me why we host this race.”


The idea for the Waco event came about a few years back when Gaines ran into a woman named Gabriele (Gabe), who was running in Central Park with her partner Justin, while visiting New York City for his Capital Gaines book tour.

“I’d always been intrigued by runners, especially ones like this couple, who made it look so easy,” Gaines wrote in a personal essay published in the summer issue of his and wife Joanna’s magazine, Magnolia Journal. “In that moment, I thought about my own list of dreams — including the part of me that’s always wondered if I could ever run 26.2 miles (aka a marathon).”


He explains that he attempted to strike up a conversation with the couple, asking them “how long it would take for an out-of-shape guy like me to train for a marathon.” The couple were happy to chat and Gabe told Chip he could be a qualified runner in about 4 months.

Eventually, Gaines learned that Gabe also has a rare cancer called cystic carcinoma and had started a foundation called Brave Like Gabe with a mission to support rare cancer research and “empower cancer survivors through physical activity.”

Meeting her “felt like a call to action.” So he went back home to Waco and started planning for the Silo District Marathon, now in its second year.

“We host this race because I believe when we do hard things together, we can accomplish the impossible!” Gaines writes in his new blog post. “Whether it’s to push our bodies further than we ever have before, or raise a boatload of money to help find a cure for this thief called cancer.”

This year, Gaines says a combined 6,000 people ran in the marathon, half-marathon and 5k races, and they raised over $300,000 for both a local cancer treatment center and the Brave Like Gabe foundation.

Chip Gaines running in the Silo District Marathon with Crew Gaines
Chip Gaines running in the marathon. Joanna Gaines/Instagram

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The HGTV star, who is launching his own network with Joanna in 2020 that will replace the DIY Network, previously revealed that he was “out of shape” before running the marathon, but pushed through — and even had Gabe as a coach during the process.

“I hadn’t worked out in about a decade, and I was easily 20 pounds overweight,” Gaines writes. “That’s not really the ideal starting place for a budding marathoner. But what I did know felt bigger than all of the very good reasons I wasn’t qualified. I knew I wanted to be a part of the work Gabe was doing, so I could either get off the couch and jump in with both feet or sit there comfortably and play spectator to this opportunity as it passed me by.”

Signups for the third annual Silo District Marathon on April 26, 2020, are now open. “I’m asking you to come alongside me and take on this challenge,” Gaines writes. “Set your goal today and sign up for next year’s race! We’ve got something good going here, and if it’s up to Gabe… If it’s up to me… we’re just getting started!”

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