More to the point: They were close friends, chums since they were boys. They had both grown up in Havertown and played soccer together all through their youth and at Haverford High School, where Schultz was captain of the team. Schultz won a soccer scholarship to the University of Delaware and earned all-conference honors in his senior year. Davidson went to Bloomsburg University, where he was a starter on the varsity soccer squad for three years.
After college, they both played on club teams for a while, but soccer eventually yielded to the demands of work and family. Running, they both found, was a convenient way to keep their bodies fit and also to express their competitive drive.
A couple of months after the meeting at the pub, Davidson, 37, who lives in Manhattan and works for the Disney/ABC Television Group, called Schultz, also 37, who lives in Newtown Square and teaches at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill, where he coaches the varsity soccer team.
"Hey, we should do this!" Davidson said. "I'm serious." He proposed that they sign up for marathons in each of the first three months of 2012 - Miami, Myrtle Beach, and Cape May.
Schultz was game.
"We both love running and staying in shape," Schultz says. "It gave us something to do and train for."
Before long, they had expanded the scope of their ambition: They would run 12 marathons in 12 months in 2012 - 12 in 12 in '12. As the year progressed and they adjusted the schedule to fit the demands of their lives, they discovered they could add another dimension to their quest - by running a marathon in 12 different states as well. So now, it was 12 in 12 in 12 in '12.
"We looked at it as something not everyone has done," Davidson says. "Lots of people have run a marathon, and lots of marathoners run one or two a year. This sort of separates us from the pack. Not many people can say they ran 12 marathons in 12 states in 12 months."
Besides the races in Miami, Myrtle Beach, and Cape May, the pair have run marathons in Charlottesville, Va.; Wilmington; Lake Placid, N.Y.; San Francisco; West Virginia; Portland, Maine; Baltimore, and, a week ago, in Harrisburg. Their last marathon will be next month in Las Vegas.
The two friends run and finish together, usually between 4:15 and 4:30. "We try to enjoy ourselves," Schultz says. "We stop and take pictures of cool signs that we see. We love being part of the scene and the spectacle."
Davidson calls Schultz "more the marathon guy." Schultz, who trains more consistently, completed the Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in September in 1:29:58, breaking his father's record of 1:30. Davidson, whose demanding job limits his training time, runs the marathon at a comfortable pace. "I want to make sure I can run the next one," he says.
For a lark, Schultz ran two marathons in jeans - Cape May in long jeans, Charlottesville in jean shorts. He missed his flight to Myrtle Beach, so he had to drive there, arriving at 3 a.m., just hours before the 6:30 a.m. start. The marathon in West Virginia turned out to be more a trail run than a road race, which was a wild and more rigorous challenge.
In San Francisco, both men were thrilled to run part of the way with ultrarunning phenomenon Dean Karnazes, who was trotting along with his usual effortlessness. Davidson especially enjoyed the Cape May marathon (formally the Ocean Drive Marathon, which began in Cape May and ended in Sea Isle City). He ran on the Wildwood boardwalk and passed many of the houses and apartments where he had spent idyllic summers in Stone Harbor and Avalon.
For several years, Schultz, Davidson, their brothers, and other high school pals used to participate in a yearly golf outing in Myrtle Beach. But that ritual fell by the wayside the last couple of years because everybody was so busy with family, work, and other obligations. For Schultz and Davidson, this year's monthly marathons, despite the often difficult logistics, have enabled them to keep their friendship close and vital.
"Buddies who run together stay together," Schultz declares. "You know the bond that runners have? We definitely have a connection because of this that has renewed and refreshed our friendship."
There's also a philanthropic dimension. Davidson has raised about $800 so far for Back on My Feet, which helps the homeless regain self-esteem and independence through running. Schultz has raised about $1,200 for the Alonzo Covert Education Fund, which provides a scholarship to an Academy Park graduating senior who intends to major in education.
What's next for the pair? Perhaps an ultra or two, such as July's 24-hour endurance race on the Schuylkill River-Kelly Drive loop that benefits Back on My Feet.
"If Dan gets me to run an ultra, I'll get him to do a half-Ironman," Davidson vows.
"Now that we've done this, I feel like we have to keep doing something that will keep us together in the years going forward," he continues. "It's four hours of bonding time, just like golf. It's good for the long run."
Adds Schultz: "I do this for my mental health as well. If I weren't doing stuff like this, I'd need some kind of competition, something to challenge myself, something where I can say, 'I did this and feel proud about it.' "
"Well Being" appears every other week, alternating with Sandy Bauers' "GreenSpace" column. Contact Art Carey at email@example.com. Read his recent columns at www.philly.com/wellbeing.