by Dennis Dalman – firstname.lastname@example.org
As she looks forward to running in the Boston Marathon, Laura Nordby of Sartell feels a mixture of nervousness and excitement.
It will be the Sartell woman’s first time in the world-famous event.
“I’m nervous, thinking this can’t be real,” she said. “But I’m very excited after all I’ve heard about the Boston marathon.”
Nordby is one of five Sartell residents who qualified for this year’s marathon, which will take place in the greater Boston area on Patriots’ Day, Monday, April 15. The others are Jereme Fimrite, Shane Johnson, Curt Karolus and Dr. Liliana Lucas. Although Lucas, who participated in last year’s marathon, did qualify again, she had to change her plans. She will, however, take part in the Boston Marathon next year.
Nordby has been training for the big event all winter. Her training, indoor treadmill and outdoor running, is based on a marathon-training book suggested by Dr. Liliana Lucas, who has been a running partner – usually on weekends for several years. Nordby qualified for the Boston event by her performance at the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth.
“I’ve always liked running, ever since I was in track in high school,” Nordby said. “Since then, I’ve just kept running. I love running because all it takes is yourself and a pair of shoes.”
She and her husband, Sam, will fly to Boston on the weekend of April 12. Their young children – Dutch, Anna and Lincoln – wish they could go, too, but they will have a chance to see the marathon, and perhaps “mama,” on YouTube or on a television broadcast. Sam will be one of an estimated 500,000 cheering supporters who line the streets of the greater Boston area every year for the event. Such supporters come from all over the world to cheer on the runners and wheelchair-bound racers. The actual race participants number as high as 36,000.
Nordby has been to Boston before but never as a marathon runner. At one time, she never dreamed she would one day participate in “the Boston,” but because of personal contacts, including runners she knows like Lucas, she realized it could – and did – become a possibility.
Nordby has met and spoken with famed runner, Minneapolis-born Dick Beardsley, who placed a close second in the Boston Marathon in 1982. He vividly described to her the excitement and drama of the race.
Nordby is a stay-at-home mom who formerly taught third grade and fifth grade at Cold Spring Elementary School. Husband Sam is a counselor at the St. Cloud Area Learning Center.
Dr. Liliana Lucas, owner of Pediatric Dentistry in Sartell, knows very well the excitement Nordby can look forward to at the Boston Marathon. It wasn’t an easy course, thought, that’s for sure.
“The weather was 85 degrees last year,” she said. “It was so hot that day. But running in the marathon was wonderful. The crowd along the way was just amazing, and the race was so well organized. It was my first time in Boston, which is a very fun city. And the crowds’ support from mile one all through was wonderful.”
Lucas finished the 26-mile course in 3:27:00.
Just being a qualifier for the Boston Marathon is a “huge accomplishment,” Lucas said, largely because qualifications become tighter every year in every age category. The race organizers take people’s qualifying times from other marathons, and then most get weeded off the lists as only the fastest runners are selected to be in the race.
Before last year’s race, Lucas spent months training on a treadmill in her home.
“Being in Minnesota (with the winter weather) makes training for it more challenging,” she said.
Lucas enjoys lots of camaraderie while training outdoors. She gets up at 5:30 a.m. and runs with one or more women who live in her Sartell neighborhood: Lisa Bollinger, Hilary Burns, Shannon Houghton, Erin Lemke, Ally Parker and Jill Smith. Houghton and Smith have already qualified for the Boston Marathon for next year. The others may well qualify soon.
“When we run together, it’s also our social time,” Lucas said. “We’re all busy moms.”
Lucas has enjoyed running at Central High School in LaCrosse, Wis., where she was raised. Other marathons she’s run in include Grandma’s in Duluth and races in the Twin Cities, Chicago, Madison (Wis.) and LaCrosse.
Her husband, Josh, and their children Mark, Nathan and Lauren are very proud of her and are already looking forward to seeing her compete next year in “the Boston.” It will be good to be there as a celebration of my qualifying in the Twin Cities.”
Jereme Fimrite is going to Boston with a buoyant attitude. He considers the Boston Marathon a “celebration” of his diligent training that paid off.
Qualifying for the famous race was not easy. In one Minnesota marathon, Fimrite’s finishing time was 3:17:00, just seven seconds short of the time he needed to qualify for Boston. That disappointment just made Fimrite more determined. After four months of strenuous training, he ran the Twin Cities Marathon and qualified for the Boston Marathon. That was last October, and he has been training ever since, despite what he described as a “lousy, horrible spring for training.” But nasty weather didn’t stop him. Last week, for instance, Fimrite’s running sessions totaled 88 miles.
“I’m ready for Boston, and I’m excited,” Fimrite said. “I don’t have a goal for the Boston Marathon. It will just be good to be there as a celebration of my qualifying in the Twin Cities.”
Fimrite said it took him five years “to forget” the pain of his first marathon – the “Grandma’s” in Duluth in 2005. After that brutal experience, Fimrite more or less gave up the idea of such long running. But friends, much later, convinced him to give marathons another try. They convinced him, and he was hooked. Two years ago, he tried the Duluth event again.
“I enjoyed it more that time, even though a friend suffered a stress fracture during the run,” he said. “But he vowed to do it again, and so last year we finished the Grandma’s. My third time.”
Fimrite’s entire approach to running is to “do a little bit better than last time, to better my time every time.”
He and his wife Tammy, a chiropractor at Minzer Chiropractic, plan to spend a week on the East Coast after the marathon. They’re looking forward to seeing a Boston Red Sox game in Fenway Park.
Back home, their fans will be watching the marathon. Those fans include his children – Michaele, Nathanael, Madalyn and Maycee; and his students. Fimrite is a sixth-grade math teacher at South Junior High School in St. Cloud.
History of the race
The Boston Marathon, which began in 1897, is the oldest annual footrace marathon in the world and arguably the most famous. It’s also well known for its men’s and women’s wheelchair races.
It began by coordinators who were impressed by the first modern-day running marathon a year before, in the 1896 Summer Olympics. For the first race, there were only 18 participants. During the Boston Centennial Marathon in 1996, the number had grown to almost 36,000 finishers in the race. This year, about 27,000 entrants are expected to compete.
Operated by the Boston Athletic Association, the 26-mile marathon course runs through eight cities in the greater Boston area, starting at noon at Hopkinton and ending with the finish line at Copley Square next to the Boston Public Library.
The course is known for several brutally challenging hills, including “Heartbreak Hill,” where runners typically lose steam and sometimes even drop out.
Women were not officially allowed to participate in the marathon until 1972, although a few chose to run, unofficially, as early as 1966. Nowadays, female participants average slightly more than 40 percent each year.
Besides the thousands of runners, the marathon typically attracts 500,000 or more spectators – many of them from countries throughout the world who line the streets and loudly cheer on the participants.
The event always takes place on Patriots’ Day in Boston, which is the third Monday in April. Last year, a man and a woman from Kenya were the winners of the event – Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop. Korir had a time of 2:12:40; and Cherop’s time was 2:31:50.
The all-time record runner in the marathon’s 116-year history is Geoffrey Mutai, also of Kenya, who crossed the finish line with a time of 2:03:02, which is an unofficial world’s record for a 26-mile footrace.
The first winner of the marathon was American John. J. McDermott with a time of 2:55:10. In the first 50 years or so of the race, almost all winners were either Americans or Canadians. As the race became more famous worldwide, more people from other countries began to enter it, resulting in many winners from around the world. Runners from Kenya, known for their intensive training and running stamina, won the Boston Marathon for 10 consecutuive years from 1991 to 2000, and some of those Kenyan runners were repeat winners with several having won two and three times previously.
Since 1991, 20 of the winners have been Kenyans, with two from Ethiopia and one from South Korea. In 2008, Kenyan Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot won his fourth Boston Marathon race. Female winners from Kenya and Ethiopia have also dominated the race in the past 20 or so years.
United States runners will hold the record for total wins in the 116 years of the race, with 95 men’s and women’s winners combined. Kenya is second with 29 winners, Canada third with 21 winners and Japan fourth with 15 winners.
The all-time champs for multiple wins are Ernst Van Dyk (South Africa) in the Men’s Wheelchair Division (nine wins), Clarence DeMar (United States) in the Men’s Open Division (seven wins) and Catherine Ndereba (Kenya) in the Women’s Open Division (four wins).
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.