Top runners endorse changes to Boston Marathon, local races

Pete Lederer has run Boston 16 straight years and plans to continue that tradition in September.

Running by ourselves can provide some needed comfort and relief from cabin fever during this dire global health crisis.

But getting together for big traditional race competitions?

That’s a big N-O.

When it comes to social distancing, we want to distance ourselves from distance races like the Boston Marathon and the Sesame Place Classic as far as possible.

Which is why Boston was moved from April to September and the 22nd annual Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic, originally scheduled for May 17, has been cancelled.

To no one’s surprise, some of the top past and present Boston Marathon veterans from around the area say they are totally on board with the rescheduling in September.

While having to re-train in the hot weather months of June, July and August presents a formidable challenge, our elite runners understand it’s a small sacrifice to make in light of the terrifying threat of the coronavirus/COVID-19.

Long-time Bucks County Roadrunners Club member Pete Lederer was planning to run his 17th consecutive Boston when news broke of the postponement.

“I’m in complete agreement that the race should be postponed, but it’s still completely heartbreaking,’’ Lederer said. “I’ve run the last 16 Boston marathons so this has been a routine to plan my spring schedule around the annual trip.

“I’ve had a really good winter of training leading up to now and was looking forward to running well. I find it very difficult to train for a marathon in the summer heat. I might not be as fit in September but I’m planning on being at the starting line in Hopkinton.’’

One of my training partners, Fraser Marlow, finds himself heading into the uncharted waters of the “new’’ Boston.

After years of attempting to qualify for Boston, he finally did so last year.

There was all the excitement of training these past four or five months – cranking out the weekly 20-milers and getting ready for the big Patriot’s Day event in Beantown.

And then the world changed.

No baseball, no hockey, no Masters, no Penn Relays, no Kentucky Derby and no 30,000 runners laughing and nervously jumping up and down at the starting line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

“I had planned a whole long weekend around the race,’’ Marlow said. “I read the announcement on Friday and it really took the wind out of my sails.  My training run (Sunday) morning was for 20 miles and while I completed the distance, I was easily 30 seconds per mile slower than previous weeks.  The mental game has taken a hit, for sure.’’

Marlow reports there are fewer runners than usual in Pennypack Park (northeast Philadelphia).

They will be returning when the crisis is over and the weather gets warmer. . .much warmer.

“I hope to run in September,’’ Marlow said. “But I am not good in the heat, so the idea of building up mileage in July and August makes me groan.’’

Former New Hope-Solebury High School cross country coach Mike Clarke is a five-time Boston runner and empathizes with the current field.

“I would not have a problem running Boston in September instead of April,’’ Clarke said. “Most Boston runners do a fall marathon as part of their running regimen, so the only downside is higher mileage training in July and August for the September race date.’’

Bucks County’s current most accomplished marathoner is Langhorne’s Steve Hallman, who turned in a brilliant 2:22 last fall at Berlin.

He, too, understands why somewhat radical changes have had to be made.

“These are crazy times,’’ Hallman said. “I wish I would have signed up for Boston this year, The novelty of running this race at a different date than all previous 124 races would be something cool to be a part of. And perhaps bring better weather. I ran it 2015, ’16, ‘17 and the weather was awful.

“That said, I really feel for the men and women who work so hard and qualified for the first time. This was probably the last thing they expected when they signed up in the fall.

“I believe the local races and race directors are the ones who will suffer the most. They rely on this income. This isn’t a situation where they can just push it back another weekend. It’s likely it will take a few months until they can resume.’’

 

Race calendar

 

Saturday

 

Blaze of Glory 5K (POSTPONED. Tentative reschedule date May 2). Contact www.blazeofglory5k.com

About Wayne Fish 1117 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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