How I Accidentally Qualified for the Boston Marathon

Draped over the lamp next to my bed is a 1992 Boston Marathon medal. At 75 years old, I awake each morning to a reminder of what I can be.

In September of 1991, I was having a few cold ones with the T-Birds after our weekly doubleheader. The conversation began when Bernie, an ex-Marine, told me he would be running the Marine Corps Marathon that November.

At the time, I was running regularly, with a few 10-milers under my belt, averaging around a 9-minute mile pace. I told them I’d join Bernie, and being 43 and the oldest teammate, they were placing bets that I couldn’t even beat the “Stragglers Bus” that cleared the course four hours after the first finisher. November 4th arrived, and I was off to tour 26.2 miles of Washington D.C.. I finished in just over 5 hours.

Fast forward to March of 1991. I had recovered enough to run a few 10Ks and signed up for The Shamrock 8K in Virginia Beach. When I went to pick up my bib, I learned they needed more marathon entrants. What the hell? Sign me up!

Race day came, and I was off to tour 26.2 miles of Virginia Beach. Having grown up and attended college in that beach town, I passed the time reminiscing. I figured I was about 4 miles from the finish line when I stopped to stretch out a calf cramp. Fate took over when another runner passed by me and yelled, “GO MAN! WE ONLY GOT ONE MILE!”

So I took off and ran like hell. My final time was 3 hours and 17 minutes. At 44 years old, I had a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon in my age group.

How does one cut over two hours off their first marathon, only five months earlier, without any distance training or freaking over keeping a 7:15 pace? Perhaps it had something to do with my trusted Timex Ironman Watch going blank shortly into the race. My body was running freely, and my mind just went along for the ride. The body and mind connection is a wonder, but one should never doubt its power.

Next stop: The 1992 Boston Marathon. But that’s another story.

The Adventure Continues! Read On...