By Jennifer Thurbide
Four road warriors put their training to the test recently joining more than 23,000 challengers racing to finish the 2012 Boston Marathon. On April 16, 2012 athletes Candice Herbert, Roy Sidders, Matt Long and Katherine Fawthrop joined competitors from all over with a single goal – to beat the heat and finish one of the world’s toughest marathon courses.
Running in one of the first series of groups allowed on the course, Long was the first of the Red Lake contingent to make it across the finish line with a time of 3:35:47 in the Mens 35-39 age category. Running in the 40-44 age category, Fawthrop finished in 5:18:09, in the 50-54 age category Sidders finished in 4:43.06 and Herbert finished in 4:37:10 in the 55-59 age category.
Describing the feel of the occasion Long said “The City of Boston really goes out for this event and they are very proud of their history and tradition. They made every runner there feel like a hero. It is amazing.” Echoing this sentiment Sidders commented last week “There could have been a half a million people lining this route. It was a very extreme day for weather and yet volunteers and fans were out on the road. And there was real history – I guess there are things people have been doing as fan support for years and they have been doing it for decades now. There was unbelievable support from the Boston area.”
An extreme day for weather it was with the high reaching well over 30 degrees Celsius and no breeze or shade. Each runner noted the heat had an impact on their performance and in the days and hours leading up to the race officials warned those who were not highly fit or had underlying medical conditions not to participate. For the first time in history organizers offered deferred entries into the 2013 event for those who chose not to race and national media reported that more than 4,000 runners chose this option.
However, Herbert says after spending the time, the money and the effort getting to Boston, she wasn’t going to quit. “They kept sending us bulletins not to run it and tried to discourage us but because we go from all the way over here and you are doing the hotel and such you just do it – and run accordingly, drink water and enjoy it. I think everybody said their time was about a half hour to 40 minutes slower than normal because of the heat.”
And after the morning spent in the blistering heat tackling what is arguably one of the hardest marathon courses in the world, each competitor said they would do it again, if only to meet previous expectations set out for this year’s race.
A day at the Boston Marathon
For many running one marathon might seem like an unattainable goal. For Candice Herbert this was her ninth marathon and her second time at the Boston event, having participated 16 years earlier. “It was harder this time,” said the athlete who confirms that she was pleased with her run factoring in the weather conditions. The veteran says she has accomplished everything she set out to over the years having placed first in her age group a number of times in both half and full marathon events and that tackling Boston was next on the list. When asked why run in Boston she noted “because it is the most famous [marathon] in the world and it is supposed to be one of the toughest. They call part of it Heartbreak Hill but some people say it’s because it starts downhill and that is really tough on your legs – but I don’t really know because you are just so excited.” Herbert says that although she is considering slowing down she could be challenged to try something new or to take on the Boston course again.
The Iron Man
This past week was the second time the Northern Sun News has spoken to Roy Sidders about his fitness goals. The first time was in August 2010 shortly after he completed an Iron Man competition in Lake Placid which involved a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. After that a marathon should seem easy. Sidders disagrees. “You will have Ironman people talk to you about how a marathon is tougher than an Ironman even though it is a shorter race – it is still a long race (hard to call a marathon a short race). Even though it is a shorter race it is a higher intensity for that time period.” Sidders says with the intense heat on race day the run was a survival test: “It was a pretty big unknown I think for everybody who was going into the race what effect the heat was going to have was an unknown because when you build up to some training in heat it is a different matter.” Describing Boston as a continuation of the adventure Sidders is considering his next fitness goal. Not willing to commit himself to one specific event yet he did say “for me it is about the big adventure where there is an intense level of training coming up to the big event which is a lot of fun.”
“I was quite surprised,” said Katherine Fawthrop last week of her reaction to finding out she had qualified for the Boston Marathon after running her first marathon in Manitoba last summer. “I had my results posted on Facebook so as soon as I finished I got a number of messages from friends telling me I had come second in my [age and gender] division. That was overwhelming finding that out while I was finishing.” After posting a qualifying time how could she miss this opportunity? “I felt that it was an experience I shouldn’t miss. I said even if it would be challenging I would go ahead and do it.” Fawthrop finished the race in Boston, but says it wasn’t much of a run after the heat took hold of her at close to half way. Intent on finishing she pushed herself to walk her way through the last half of the course and claimed her participation medal at the finish line. Will she do it again? “I had said it would be my last marathon but considering [the conditions]… I have been telling people ‘I didn’t run the Boston marathon, I finished it and participated in it’. I am feeling like I will do the Manitoba marathon again this year.”
The sport of competitive running didn’t come easy said Matt Long who in 2006 doubted he would ever post a qualifying time for the famous race. “At that moment [I finished the Manitoba Marathon in 2006] I would have laughed if you said I would be running Boston a short six years later.” Continuing to train Long says it took a number of years before he was able to post a qualifying time, which happened this past summer in Fargo, North Dakota. “Boston was very special because it took a lot of hard work to get there.” Starting the race at a slower pace than usual Long said as the miles wore on his focus shifted from finishing fast to finishing for the experience. “I am really happy I did finish it. There were a lot of runners out there that were really hurting.” With Boston now just a memory the athlete says his next goal is about distance as he will attempt an 80 kilometre run the third week of October. And how does one train for something like this? More marathons – he will be running in the Grammas Marathon and a Thunder Bay event over the summer.