By Cassie Sheridan | From The Beacon
There is something inexplicable about the magic of a marathon. Maybe it’s 10,000 sets of Nikes hitting the pavement in unison. Maybe it’s imagining the amount of miles logged by those bodies in months and years of training. Regardless, on Sunday, Willamette Blvd. was part of that magic. For some students, the Portland Marathon meant a frustrating detour and roadblocks. For others, it was a day that had been circled for months on their calendar.
The true spirit of the marathon doesn’t occur on race day, it happens in the months before. That’s when the stories and events that brought all those individuals together for the ultimate test of mental and physical endurance occur. These stories are the reason people run.
On Sunday, UP students, whether they were runners, pacers or volunteers contributed a little bit of their own magic to the Portland Marathon.
For senior Colin Root, the Portland Marathon represented the opportunity to set a goal and beat it.
“Last year, I decided my goal was to get under 3 hours,” Root said. “I love to test myself and my body. There is something special about going out there and doing something you don’t think you are capable of.”
Root certainly was able to accomplish something most individuals are not capable of.
“I kept a really solid 6:30 mile pace,” Root said. “When I crossed the finish, I was disoriented but knew I had gotten under 3 hours. It’s awesome to know I will always be able to say ‘In college I ran a 3-hour marathon’ even if I never run one again.”
Root said his ROTC training was essential to his preparation and ROTC provided a great support team.
Root had senior Vince Dato-on meet him at mile 20 and help him keep pace for what is traditionally perceived as the hardest three to five miles of the marathon.
“I hit runner’s wall at mile 20 and Vince met me there and ran with me,” Root said. “I was hurting and wanting to slow down but he helped me keep pace, which was essential.”
A 3-hour marathon placed Root within the top handful of finishers.
Root said he was just happy to find a good outlet for all the ROTC training.
For junior Katie Kerr, this year’s marathon was far tougher than her last.
“Last year when I ran the marathon, I trained so much,” Kerr said. “This year was a lot harder run. Luckily, I had two great friends run with me to help me stay motivated.”
Kerr loves to run the Portland Marathon because it is such a positive environment.
“All my housemates came out and cheered for me,” Kerr said. “I had junior Josh Cleary run ten miles with me and keep me motivated and Vince came back from running with Colin to help me too. The support made it so wonderful, despite the tough run.”
Kerr believes anyone can run a marathon, if they set a goal and just work towards it.
“The awesome thing about running is accessibility,” Kerr said. “Anyone can get out there and just run. I want everybody to run a marathon. It is such a positive experience.”
Ten years ago, junior Maria Etheridge lost her grandma. Coincidentally, 10 years later, Etheridge was considering running her first half marathon.
“I never thought I could run that much,” Etheridge said. “Then I just had a rough spring and really needed something to work towards. I told my dad about my goal and he told me he would run it with me. We then found out the race was the same date as my grandma’s death and it just felt like something incredible that my dad and I could do together in honor of her.”
Etheridge said the overwhelming support from her friends and family helped her achieve her goal.
“It was so special for every reason. My whole family came down from Washington to watch and cheer for us,” Etheridge said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Senior Vincent Dato-on ran alongside not just one marathoner, but two. Dato-on met Root at the St. Johns Bridge and ran around four miles with him before looping back around and meeting Kerr to run another three miles.
“I ran the marathon last year,” said Dato-on. “However, this year I really wanted to just help motivate people to accomplish their goals. I knew Colin really wanted to get that 3-hour finish and so it was awesome to be able to help motivate him to finish strong.”
Junior Josh Cleary has never ran an official marathon, but thinks with the amount of miles he has logged pacing people he may as well have.
“I don’t have an official finisher shirt,” Cleary said. “I feel like I should though. I have almost run the whole thing a couple of times. It’s so much easier to have someone there running with you than trying to keep that pace all by yourself.”
For most college students, waking up at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning is the last thing on their to-do list. However, bright and early on Willamette Blvd., about 20 UP students crowded around Richard Gritta, a business professor who has ran the marathon many times in the past, to volunteer.
Despite the chilly morning dew and the late supply delivery truck, volunteers persevered and handed out water until noon.
“It was really special to see so many other students come out at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning,” said junior volunteer Megan Tienken. “Everyone worked together and collaborated to make our water station successful.”