Tony Runs Boston

Tony Walter, after qualifying at Steamtown, 2012 for Boston.

Tony Walter, after qualifying at Steamtown, 2012 for Boston.

Back in May, 2012, a group of us from the SJAC decided we would head up to Scranton for the Steamtown Marathon in October, 2012.  One of our dedicated group, Brian, suggested we should write a blog about the group preparing for this event.  I happened to be the one who moved forward on this suggestion, and the was born.  Through the hottest summer on record in the Philadelphia area, we trained as a group, sweating, running, sweating some more, wringing out wet socks and shorts, hydrating, rehydrating, and getting in the miles.  Our experiences were documented in our blog.  After the grueling summer, and a bit cooler September, our group headed up to Scranton to participate in the Steamtown Marathon.  It is small as marathons go.  Three thousand signed up, the maximum allowed, and the event was closed to registration by the end of May, which speaks to it’s desirability.  It is also known as a Boston qualifier, since an average of about 25% of runners in this race qualify for Boston.  What this means, though, as I found out, was that it is an elite runners marathon.  The reason so many qualify for Boston is that so many fast runners run this race.  This was evident when we were gathered in the gym at the Forest City high school, waiting for the start.  I had not seen so many Boston Marathon jackets since I ran Boston in 2011.

Tony ran Steamtown with an eye to qualifying for Boston, although he would have been happy just to put in a decent performance.  He needed to hit under 3:40 to qualify.  He also needed for Boston not to be filled up by the time his race was run.  There were a few factors that made this prospect interesting.  One was that the Boston Athletic Association decided to change the qualifying times the year before.  Two years ago, Tony could have qualified with a 3:45:59.  They decided to drop the time for all entrants by five minutes, and drop the 59 second allowance.  That set the new time at 3:40 flat.  In addition, they decided to allow finishers who beat the time by certain margins, 20 minutes and 10 minutes, to get preferential sign up privileges.  Theoretically, one could make a qualifying time but not be allowed to run because all the places were taken.  This happened the year before, when some runners had hit the qualifying time, but there were no places left.  For 2013, an anomaly occurred.  The 2012 Boston Marathon was run under very hot conditions, with temperatures into the high eighties.  Participants at Boston who normally would have qualified at Boston for the following year had times much slower than normal due to the heat, and some actually decided not to run.  This left a few places available still in October, after the Steamtown Marathon.  So, when Tony hit his qualifier of 3:39:06, he was able to sign up for Boston.

At the end of Steamtown Marathon, Tony was beat.  He could hardly move, and when someone in our group offered to get him a drink, he had the look of a zombie as he answered that he really couldn’t say.  Our group went out to eat lunch at a very nice Mexican restaurant in Clarks Summit.  Tony ordered a delicious tortilla soup, which remained untouched as he stared at his bowl not saying a word.  We got a little worried about him, but he still had a pulse and respiratory rate, so we figured he would be okay.  On the way home to the Philadelphia area, he stopped at a rest stop to get some coffee.   Lisa, one of our group, followed him there, just to check on him.  Seeing he was managing alright, she drove on and Tony eventually made it back home.

The next day, he signed up for Boston.  Good thing he did, too, for it filled up by Thursday of that week.

Tony is a terrific training partner.  He seems like he is always in a good mood, and he always has kind things to say about everyone.  He is very steady in his training, and got through the summer having put in the miles, logged the long runs and done the track work to be well prepared.  He kept the rest of us going strong, and set a good example for us.  In other words, he earned it.

Many of my non-running friends have asked, “what is so special about Boston?”  Anyone who has run a marathon knows about Boston.  It is the oldest modern marathon, run since 1897, with the exception of 1918, during the first world war.  It is also a marathon for which one must qualify in ones age group.  The runners are all elite runners who have achieved a qualifying time which puts them in the top echelon of marathoners world wide.  But the best thing about running Boston is the support of the fans, who turn out in droves on the day of the marathon to cheer on the runners.  It doesn’t hurt that the event is held on Patriot’s Day, commemorating the start of the revolutionary war, and, as it happens, a holiday in Massachusetts.  The crowds that line the route, cheering, giving support, and making a lot of noise, especially in the last few blocks before the finish line, make the race a wonderful experience.  And, to make it all that much sweeter, the students from Wellesley, an all-women’s college, come out to offer kisses and high fives to the runners as they pass the midpoint of the race.

Tony will be running his first Boston Marathon tomorrow.  From his training partners back home, who didn’t make it in to Boston this year, we wish him the very best.  This morning, after our Sunday morning training run, a 13 mile route, the group gathered to offer Tony advice.  “Don’t go out too fast (duh…).”  “Go out easy and then back off.”  “Go get ’em, but take your time at Wellesley.”  And “whatever you do, make it across the finish line.”

I would like to ask any one reading this to offer support for Tony and we will pass on your advice and good wishes.

Best wishes to Tony from the SJAC Marathoners back home.

Best wishes to Tony from the SJAC Marathoners back home.

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  1. cndaussin

     /  April 14, 2013

    whee! ill be at the scream tunnel for ya

  2. Michele

     /  April 14, 2013

    Good luck, Tony! Enjoy the experience!

  3. James

     /  April 15, 2013

    All the Best Tony!

  4. James

     /  April 15, 2013

    Being that it is Tax Day, you have paid your dues, Enjoy! Have a Great Run on Patriot’s Day in Boston!

  5. I hope Tony is okay with the events that happened at the end of the marathon. All of us who live in Massachusetts are shocked and saddened by the events. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the runners and spectators.

  6. So far I’ve found out that all of our SJAC members are safe, thankfully. I would echo the above statement that I am shocked and saddened. How horrible.

  7. TonyWalter

     /  April 16, 2013

    as great as Boston was (and no doubt it is a great run) the thrill was in the chase with you guys training for Steamtown. I look forward to wineglass and

    renewing our quest. Frank you said whatever I do make it across the finish line. Well I didn’t get there this time but to quote Arnold; “Ill be back.”

    • Tony, I thought putting the bar at crossing the finish line would mean no pressure to perform. Who knew how fate would change that quest? Glad to see you still have the eye of the tiger!

  8. Brandon

     /  April 16, 2013

    This was quite a tribute. Great running Tony. We will take Boston by storm next year!


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