College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Mechanical engineering alumnus Mike Connor earns his Six-Star Medal at Tokyo Marathon


Clemson University mechanical engineering alumnus Mike Connor is no mere globetrotter. He is a globe runner.

The 1984 graduate completed all six Abbott World Marathon Majors in less than three years, earning him the coveted Six Star Medal.

Mike Connor ran six all six Abbott World Marathon Majors with support from his wife, Dorothy.

Add it all up, and it comes to 157.2 miles– one step at a time through Chicago, Boston, New York, Berlin, London and Tokyo.

Connor completed his final marathon in the series on March 3 in Tokyo in 3:36:35. His best finish was 3:17:54 last year in Berlin.

Those are remarkable times for someone who has a demanding day job as a partner in Alston & Bird’s IP Litigation Group and still finds time to give time and treasure to his alma mater.

Connor said that when COVID-19 hit, his travel demands for work eased, and he found himself with more time to train.

Whether it’s preparing for a case or running a marathon, success is 90% preparation, he said.

“If you are going to run a marathon and get a good time, you have to go out and put your long runs in and do all your training,” Connor said. “It’s no different in law, right? You have to prepare your case if you are going to go to trial. You have to get your research done, write your briefs, read the documents and get your case ready to go. Life is like athletics in that way.”

Connor’s wife, Dorothy Connor, has accompanied him on his marathon trips to support him. After the Tokyo Marathon, her iPhone showed that she traveled nine miles walking around to find him in the stream of runners.

When Mike and Dorothy Connor went to Tokyo, they brought their Clemson spirit with them.

“I felt like I ran my own marathon,” she said. “The fun part for me this time was I was on one crutch with those nine miles. Every time he does one of those marathons, it’s just super fun trying to be there and cheer him on.”

As an attorney, Connor manages patent infringement cases, along with other intellectual property disputes and counseling. For many years, he served as the head of Alston & Bird’s national IP practice and IP litigation group.

Even with a career that has him listed as one of the nation’s top lawyers in intellectual property litigation and patent litigation, Connor makes the time to stay in touch with Clemson.

He cheers on the Tigers in Death Valley during football season and is a member of the Dean’s Leadership Circle in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

Connor helps guide the Department of Mechanical Engineering as a member of its advisory board. One piece of advice from him: the more students have real-world contact, the better.

“The academic stuff is important, but they need to have hands-on contact with industry, potential employers and career alternatives,” Connor said.

For Connor, Clemson has become a family tradition. His maternal grandfather, Carl Zimmerman, graduated from Clemson, as did his father, Augustus Connor.

The tradition continues with his son, Paul, now a mechanical engineering major at Clemson.

What’s next for Connor? He isn’t finished running just yet.

If his work schedule allows, he plans to run the Boston Marathon in April.

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