Runners caught on Tape -share their marathon stories

Runners caught on Tape -share their marathon stories

Runners caught on Tape -share their marathon stories

After years of competitive racing it was fun to take my time and run the half marathon from the middle of the pack. It gave me to opportunity to really look around at the sights as well as interview runners along the way. On a near perfect day these runners shared their thoughts as they ran to reach their goals.

Kathy Step, wife of Running Fit owner Randy Step, twice did Ironman and also TV coverage for the Free Press Marathon. She has been running since 1979. Step commented that if she doesn’t push too hard she stays injury free during training. She doesn’t worry about her time. “No one knows the difference if I run five minutes faster or slower than my goal pace.” Her son Trevor is doing his first marathon (Rocket City) in December. Step is also involved in organizing the recent Big House Big Heart Run and how in just its second year, 7,000 runners raised $30,000 for Motts Hospital.

I ran into eighty nine year old John Kolmetz. He said he would never forget the year that runners over 60 years old were allowed to start a half hour ahead of the field. The TV cameras were covering the race and thought they were the leaders.

Jaime Sierra from Bear Lake, originally from Mexico, met his wife while she was vacationing there. He was running his first marathon and hoped to run under 4 hours (he ran 3:53). A friend helped him set an 18 week schedule although he trained all by himself. Watching a friend run Chicago’s marathon got him excited and he decided to take up running.

I met Steve Hamilton from Philadelphia. Jokingly, he said he was running the marathon so he could sneak into Canada because it was so hard to get in. He was running his tenth marathon and said, “My favorite marathons are all the ones that over and done with. Actually I liked the Memphis Marathon because it finished in the minor league baseball stadium”. As we talked, we passed a runner from Toledo that was running his 110th marathon. Hamilton said he wanted to run a marathon in all fifty states and would quit after he ran fifty marathons. “But then again I might get to ten and be done.”

I passed Jim Soter of Plymouth on the Ambassador Bridge. He was doing his 30th Free Press Marathon and said that over those years he has raised over $30,000 for Multiple Sclerosis. I also shared the beautiful sunrise on the bridge with my wife as I caught up to her. She was planning to run the marathon but cut her day short halfway through because of an injury.

Laurie Gustafson from Brighton wanted to run an 8 minute pace and told me that the early bottlenecks shot her pace to hell. She ran her first marathon years ago, the Emerald City Marathon in Seattle. Gustafson grew up in California and lived in several major cities along the west coast. I told her that I had won Emerald City five times and we reminisced about how beautiful the course and weather was for the now defunct race.

I stopped at the first Windsor fluid station and talked to Gary Belanger, owner of the Running Factory store. His store training team had almost 140 people runners in the race. He said, “We’ve been organizing this stop for fifteen years (since he opened the store). We take the west side of the road and the Windsor Wildcats, a baseball team, take the east side.”

Geneva Stephens from Rochester Hills was running her tenth Free Press Marathon. Beside her Detroit PR of 4:11, her first and favorite marathon was run in Alaska for the Leukemia Society. “I quit smoking in 1991 and run to stay healthy. My dream would be to run just once as an elite runner”. Stephens trains four to five days a week on trails and managed to finish fourteen ultra marathons and twenty marathons. She owns a landscaping business and runs before work.

Dan McGuire of Canton and Amelia Moshier of South Lyon have only been running a few years and were training together in preparation for next year’s Ironman Wisconsin. Recently Moshier did the three day walk for Breast Cancer. She was one of the greenies. Although she won’t babysit for Dan’s two kids, she said they were best friends forever . McGuire’s wife Dannon, who is pregnant, finished 276th overall in the competitive race walk.

Tracie Swiecki of Northville Township, who ran the Free Press four years ago, was running the half marathon with her sister in law. She was talking about the Girls on the Run group as I caught up to her in the Tunnel. She wondered why the course needed to be changed every year and why the marathoner couldn’t start together with the half runners so she could start with a friend. Swiecki does all her training on the treadmill and I encouraged her to start running with the Northville Roadrunners.

Jim Howard of Novi was still cheering for the runners on Jefferson long after his MSU daughter Erica had gone by. He wasn’t sure how he was going to cross through the runners to get to the other side and see his daughter finish. I suggested he start running a short distance and blend in to get to cross over. He said he admired Erica for her dedication and plans to join her in the race next year.

Nancy Damm of Ann Arbor has run forty marathons in eight years. Once ran a marathon for charity and then decided to be a pacer (4:20 or 10 minutes per mile at the Free Press). She runs with the Tortoise and Hare group and was pulling along about a dozen people. She finished in 4:19:22.

Every runner has a story behind why they were running last Sunday. When the medal of completion is placed around their necks, it represents a symbol of that story and an opportunity to bask in the accomplishment.