Grand Rapids Marathon champion Justin Gillette not slowing down after 17th race in 2011

Grand Rapids Marathon champion Justin Gillette not slowing down after 17th race in 2011

Provided by Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- Justin Gillette won his 35th marathon Sunday morning in Grand Rapids, but he maintained afterward that it stinks to be him.
"You don’t want to be me. You don’t want to be me," muttered Gillette, leaning over a chainlink fence and gasping for air moments after crossing the finish line on Winter Street.
So why is Gillette putting himself through 22 marathons this year?
"I don’t know. I don’t know," he said.
Gillette, 28 and a native of Goshen, Ind., took top honors in the eighth annual Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 44.78 seconds. It was the first time he had entered the race, which began and ended at the Downtown YMCA, and he said he wants to come back and break the course record of 2:26.46, set by Ryan Greutman in 2008.
Sunday was Gillette’s sixth marathon in seven weeks, and he said he was simply too tired to try for any record. Before finishing fourth in Scranton, Pa., last weekend, Gillette had won eight consecutive marathons and has won 11 of the 17 marathons he has entered this year.
Asked what hurts, Gillette said everything.
"I can’t tell you what hurts because if I tell you what hurts and it gets into the newspaper, two weeks from now when I run at Atlanta, my competitor might see what is hurting me," said Gillette, who started running marathons when he was 16. "I have aches and pains, but my mind is powerful. My desire to succeed is greater than the pain I put my body through. So I don’t tell people what hurts.
"I’ll tell you it hurts, but I don’t tell you what hurts."
Gillette was in command throughout Sunday’s race. He won by nearly four minutes, beating out runner-up Matt Logan of Washington, D.C. (2:33:31.58) and third-place Keith Shoemaker of Holland (2:39:14.54).

Enlarge Rachel Reed, of Eau Claire, is congratulated by Blake Hicks, of Grand Rapids, after crossing the Grand Rapids Marathon finish line Sunday near Winter Avenue NW and Blumrich Street NW. (Emily Zoladz | The Grand Rapids Press) 2011 Grand Rapids Marathon gallery (26 photos)

It was Gillette’s 88th marathon. While he is an old pro at marathons, Sunday’s was just the fourth marathon for female winner of Dani Steinbacher of Ann Arbor. Steinbacher, a 2007 Grand Valley State University graduate, finished in 2:58:12.24 to beat out second-place finisher Nicole Clement of Kalamazoo (3:01:03.27).
It was the first marathon win for Steinbacher, 26, who didn’t start running seriously until after college. She was a swimmer at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School.
"My leg was kind of gone, so I was just focusing on staying on my feet and finishing," Steinbacher said. "My goal was to break three hours, and I was able to get 2:58.
"The biggest thing is to follow your heart. I was told by about three different people that I wasn’t cut out to be a runner. I was told to go into swimming or to take up biking. I was just determined to make it happen. If you love it, you can do it. I wanted it."
Cool temperatures and light rain greeted the more than 4,000 runners and approximately 1,000 volunteers who participated in Sunday’s marathon and half-marathon. But the rain had pretty much stopped by the time the marathon began.
"We had a little bit of growth this year, not a lot, but we continue to grow each year," race director Don Kern said. "We nailed the weather six years in a row, so to have a little bit of sprinkles this morning, you kind of expect it. Sooner or later, it had to happen. At least the wind from (Saturday) died down."
Jason Kleinjan, 27, of Chicago, won the half-marathon for the second consecutive year, winning in 1:12:51.79. Julia Viel, 21, who resides in Mentor, Ohio, and is originally from Big Rapids, was the female half-marathon winner in 1:24:19.21.