The Running Man

Most people cringe at the idea of working out or running even 1 mile at the end of a long, hard day at the office.  Try 10 miles, or 26.  Could you imagine what it would feel like to actually finish a marathon?

What about those few humans who go even further?  How about ironman competitions?  Not enough, you say?  Try running for 200 miles with a band of brothers or sisters depending on you?  That’s the world that our own brother, Dr. Mark Costes lives in.  But, it hasn’t all been easy for this dental athlete.

For as long back as he can remember, Dr. Costes has been involved in some sort of competitive sport. Because he was so much smaller than his peers and constantly being bullied, Mark’s parents enrolled him in martial arts at the age of five years old. His early involvement in martial arts gave him the tools to defend himself and helped him to develop the confidence, flexibility and coordination to excel in other sports.

In high school Costes wrestled, played football and baseball while continuing his martial arts training. As a junior in high school, Mark and his family moved to Agoura Hills, California. As a left fielder, Dr. Costes was used to playing on a field with a deep left field fence and a warning track. During his very first varsity game at his new high school on an unfamiliar field, Costes collided with the shallow left field fence while attempting to field a deep fly ball. A Los Angeles Times sports photographer captured the entire scene in a gruesome three picture sequence. Picture one was Costes running full speed face first into the fence. Picture two showed his coach and several players on their hands and knees searching for Costes’s teeth in the left field grass. The third picture showed Mark being helped off of the field with his jersey completely covered in blood.

The collision caused Costes to loose tooth number eight, which was never found. Tooth number nine was driven distally and rested in the middle of his palate at about the level of the second premolar. Costes was rushed to the hospital where he underwent surgery from and oral surgeon and plastic surgeon. When he awoke, he had dozens of stitches, tooth number eight was gone teeth numbers seven and ten were fractured and tooth number nine was splinted in place using ortho wire.

Although it was a pretty traumatic event, Costes credits the accident for his initial interest in dentistry and his eventual choice of dentistry as a profession.  Costes said,” When I went back for my twenty year reunion a couple of years back, someone had brought the article with the pictures from the newspaper the day after the accident. People really got a kick out of the fact that I eventually went on to become a dentist!”

Following high school, Costes played football at a small college outside of Los Angeles. After two years, Mark decided to focus on academics and transferred to the University of California, San Diego. For the first time that he could remember, Costes was not involved in a competitive sport.

To continue his involvement in athletics, Costes began teaching kick boxing at local gyms and became a personal trainer.  Costes continued to work as a trainer and coach for several years until he graduated from UCSD.

When he got to Milwaukee Wisconsin for dental school at Marquette University, Costes caught the running bug. “So many of my fellow dental school classmates were runners and entering all of these races around Milwaukee.  I thought I would give it a try.” From that point on, Costes went from short 5K races to 10K races to half marathons then marathons. Costes has now run more road races than he can remember.

Since dental school Costes has now begun expanding his racing experience to triathlons. He has competed in short and medium distance races and plans to compete in an Ironman distance race some day. He trained for nine months last year for his first Ironman before injuring an Achilles tendon. The Ironman is a grueling race that requires that the competitor swim 2.6 miles, bike 112 miles and finally finish up by running a 26.2 mile marathon.

Costes has most recently begun competing in long relays. These races are typically around two hundred miles long and the teams consists of twelve runners in two vans. Each runner runs three legs ranging from 5-10 miles. The runners are supported by the other team mates and the races typically take between 24-40 hours depending on the overall speed of the team. “I really enjoy these races because of the camaraderie and the team element. Racing can be a very solitary and lonely sport. It’s great to be back in a team environment. The races are a blast and it’s common for the teams to pick a theme and dress in costumes. Running through the night, getting no sleep for two days and traveling around in a smelly van may not sound like a great time, but it’s unbelievably fun!”

Dr. Costes graduated from the Marquette University School of Dentistry on 2002. Since then, he built a small chain of six successful dental offices. He has since sold four of them and currently owns two. Dr. Costes also owns and operates a dental assisting school out of his office in the evening after his office is closed. He sells his trademarked curriculum to dentists throughout the United States. His curriculum is currently being taught in forty-seven dental offices in over twenty states.

If you’re not yet tired just from reading all this, Mark also has a wife of ten years named Leslie and three sons; Bryce(8), Brendan(5), and Brady (3).  Whew, I thought I was productive.

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