COLUMBIA — Brett Barton came home from work on April 17, 2006, went to the VCR in his family room and rewound a videotape. Then, he sat down on his couch and watched what he recorded earlier in the day, the 2006 Boston Marathon.
He listened to the announcers talk about the long history of the marathon and saw the huge crowds gathered along the course to cheer on the elite and average runners alike.
Brett Barton (6336), Eric Bunch (1673), Munashe Chigerwe (2641), Aaron Christiansen (4862), Matt Dreier (3892), Andy Emerson (3079), Hugh Emerson (14483), Brian Evans (1334), Maggie Kramer (10938), Beth Luebbering (11218), Thomas May (2103), Scott Naples (3224), Eric Rosenhauer (10277), Edward Sauter (12908), Philip Schaefer (5719), Mike Tripp (2801), David Wilfong (9455), Darrin Young (3319).
During the race, splits will be posted on the Boston Marathon Web site bostonmarathon.org. Times will be searchable by name and bib number.
The elite runners had faces intense in concentration; rarely smiling with eyes focused 15-20 yards down the course. But the other runners were enjoying themselves despite their tiredness. Already an experienced marathoner, having run the 2005 Chicago Marathon, Barton said he loved the race’s ambience and knew he had to run in Boston.
Rigorously training, Barton ran the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., but fell just 27 seconds short of the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. Even more determined to reach Boston after his narrow miss, Barton ran the 2007 Spirit of St. Louis Marathon and finally qualified. The day he has been looking forward to for more than two years is now just a stride away.
Along with Barton, 17 other residents of Columbia will be running in the 112th Boston Marathon on Monday. The race begins at 8:35 a.m. CDT with the elite women, followed by the elite men and the rest of the field.
The Boston Marathon is unique, requiring its entrants to qualify for the race based on time and age. All the runners of the marathon are experienced marathoners, which for Barton makes the race special.
“The neat thing about Boston is everyone that’s running the race has qualified by running a good marathon prior,” Barton said. “Even the more middle of the pack runners are real good marathon runners.”
Although the course is considered difficult, Barton said the crowd and other racers, combined with what he calls “race day magic,” can help make the racers run faster than normal.
“When you’ve got the other competitors, you’ve got the other runners there, you’re all in this together,” Barton said. “You figure if that guy right there can do it, I can do it, too.”
The 26.2-mile course starts in Hopkinton, Mass., just outside Boston and ends in Boston’s historic Copley Square. Although there are many landmarks along the course, the most well known is a vertical incline known as Heartbreak Hill. Between miles 20 and 21 by the campus of Boston College, the hill comes when many runners are tiring and their muscles weakening.
Darrin Young, a first-time Boston Marathon runner, says his training around Columbia will help him overcome the hill.
“My strategy is run very conservative the first half of the marathon,” Young said. “We’ve trained on hills much more difficult than Heartbreak Hill, if I run a smart race, I won’t be afraid of Heartbreak Hill.”
Many of the 18 runners from Columbia will be traveling to Boston together, even staying in the same hotel. Both Barton and Young expect to have pre-race meals with many of the Columbia residents and warm-up runs together before the race.
“It’s gratifying that this is somewhat of a group experience,” Barton said. “It’s just going to be a fun week where I get to hang out with my friends and my running buddies and we get to run a race together.”
Young, who ran the 2007 Spirit of St. Louis Marathon with Barton, agrees.
“We’re trying to put together all of our knowledge,” Young said. “No one’s up there alone, we’re all doing this together and it will make it that much better.”
Because of the history tied to the race and the numerous spectators, the prospects of having a great race at the Boston Marathon can be enticing.
“I’m just so excited to maybe run a personal record up there at Boston, and that would just be the icing on the cake,” Young said. “Just to run it will be amazing, and then maybe to have a personal record, in my 40s, at Boston, that’s kind of a super combination.”