Saturday, April 24, 2010

Stories from the 114th Boston Marathon, Part One

It’s kind of expected when you register to run the Boston Marathon that you’ll be in the company of good runners. Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi. The 2009 winners Deriba Merga and Salina Kosgei. Catherine Ndereba and Robert K. Cheriyout before they dropped out. But there were more than a handful, try roughly 26,000 stories. Granted I only heard or read about a handful, but figured they were too cool not to share. So here the first round of some obvious and not-so-obvious tales from the 114th running of the Boston Marathon.

Maggy Zidar. Never in a million years did I expect to be standing next to my high school English teacher before the race. I knew she was running—my mom shared this news after they saw one another at the gym—but when you have a field of 26,000 or so, do you really expect to find the few people that you know (turns out I saw two)? Mrs. Zidar, as I’ve always known her, came aboard my bus in the Hopkinton parking lot with Doug Kurtis to meet his brother. She’s run Boston 10 times, nearly missed out this year because the race closed so early, and hoped to run under four hours to celebrate turning 60. While she said she was just coming off last week’s Martian Marathon, she still managed to pull off her goal and ran 3:50.

The Kurtis Brothers. I felt like I was in the company of greatness when I learned the background on these two, Doug and Dennis. Bart Yasso announced one of Doug’s feats when he stepped onto the bus before we left Boston—76 sub-2:20 marathons—but it turns out he’s not just fast, he’s run a lot of races. Doug, from Livonia, Mich., is training for Grandma’s Marathon in June but felt so good after running the half at the Martian race last weekend that he decided to do Boston after all. I needed a piece of paper with me when I stood in the bus bathroom line to jot this all down but luckily my memory prevailed to keep a few facts intact like the running more than 100 marathons. Meanwhile, brother Dennis, from San Jose, Calif., had a target on his back after finishing second in his age group last year. Most seasoned Boston runners probably know this, but practically novice me learned that the top age-groupers wear a bib on their back with their corresponding age group to show their speed. Dennis seemed to be modest over his speed, which apparently runs in the family. Doug finished in 2:54:01 while Dennis finished in 2:59:29, good for fourth and eighth, respectively in the 55-59 age group.

Kerry Green. What a cool guy to sit next to for a bus ride out to Hopkinton. An exercise physiologist by trade (Kerry, sorry again for mistaking your career), uber-marathon runner by fun, he first showed up in Boston in 1975 and was making his 18th appearance—or was it eighth? Plus he wanted to make it a memorable race, running sub-three hours so he could mark five decades—yep, the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and now 10s—of running faster than three hours. He may have sounded a little like Lindsey Vonn before the Olympics, being wary of her performance due to her shin contusion, but he didn’t let a little Meb-like sore hip and knee keep him from finishing in 2:58:18, good for fifth in his age group. And apparently there’s about a handful of others trying to accomplish the same feat. Runner’s World’s Amy Burfoot acknowledged Green in this blog post, cool stuff.

Guy-whose-name-I-can-probably-track-down-after-Big-Sur. I should have asked his name when we were on the bus but when you’re prepping for a marathon yourself, you don’t really think of all the little details. His memorable fact was new to me, but apparently popular on the marathon circuit (Kerry knew of the challenge): to run Boston, rest six days and then tackle the Big Sur International Marathon. My husband thought the challenge sounded insane while I applauded anyone who wanted to run two hilly marathons less than a week apart. He wasn’t the lone soldier either: I saw a few Boston 2 Big Sur tees on the course, passing me no less.

Stephanie Skladzien. I met Stephanie a week before the marathon at the Luna Chix Summit in northern California. She’s the team leader of the Madison cycling team, but also runs marathons and Ironmans. And we learned that our paths have probably crossed on more than one occasion but we had never met. She was the second person I knew running Boston and like Mrs. Zidar, one that I’d never expect to find on race day. We had exchanged bib numbers and described our race day outfits, but in a sea of runners that’s like the ‘needle in a haystack’ cliché. But Stephanie found me somewhere between Wellesley and Newton, we ran together for a bit, but then her gait got a little too fast for my legs to handle at that point in the race. She kept going and finished in 3:58:29, and now she’s going back home to start training for Ironman Wisconsin.

That's just the first tidbits of stories from race day. I didn't want to turn this post into a book so stay tuned for parts two and three--and maybe four and five. In the meantime, check the results from Monday's marathon at bostonmarathon.com. Photo grabbed from Paul Keleher at Flickr.

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