Five Islanders compete in New York City Marathon

Five Islanders ran the 2008 New York City Marathon last weekend, with several others cheering them along. Mercer Island residents Robert Cremin, Kevin Flaherty, Rhonda Glass, Sarah Rowe and Eric Rudder participated in America’s most prestigious 26-mile race on Nov. 2. The crisp autumn day drew a crowd of two million, while more than 40,000 people from across the world ran in the event.

Glass, 46, set the top time for Mercer Island runners, completing the race in 3 hours, 21 minutes and 35 seconds. She was also the fourth fastest woman from Washington to compete in the event. Glass came in 21st within her age group, 45-49. Flaherty, 37, took the top time for Island men, finishing the race in 4:17:26. Rudder, 41, finished with a time of 4:48:44.

Sunday’s marathon was a first for Rowe, 39, and she performed remarkably well. The Islander finished with a time of 4:00:57 — the second fastest among her Mercer Island peers.

Inspired to run a marathon by her physical trainers at Club Emerald, Rowe began training for the feat earlier this year.

“I decided to do it because I’m turning 40 this year,” said Rowe. “The co-owner of Club Emerald, Ginny Pietila, gave me an 18-week training plan. They’re so inspiring down there. They make you feel like you can do anything. I figured if they can do it, I can do it.”

A mother of three, Rowe has spent the past five months running while her sons are at school. Islander Sam Chapin, a close friend of Rowe, helped her keep pace.

“Sam’s a stay-at-home dad who can run during the day, so we trained together while our kids were at school,” Rowe said.

Although Chapin was unable to attend the New York Marathon with Rowe, her husband, Kent, was there cheering her on the entire way. After Rowe finished the race, the couple spent two days sightseeing in New York to celebrate.

Another remarkable race was that of 68-year-old Cremin, who passed the finish line in 4:20:39. New York was marathon number 30 for Cremin, an avid marathoner who began competing 17 years ago.

“I’m a statistical anomaly,” Cremin said. “This is my ninth New York marathon. I’ve run in marathons all over the world, and New York is the best.”

Before leaving for New York last weekend, Cremin said that although he would be happy to break four hours, this year’s race was not only about competition.

“If I am running behind my time goals, then I’ll get up to Harlem and stop to have a pizza. I will either go for a time or go to have a good time,” said the marathoner, whose best time is 3 hours and 37 minutes in the London Marathon.

Asked if New York would be his last marathon, Cremin replied: “If you talk to a marathoner after the race, they always say that’s the last one they’ll do. But before you know it, you’re back out on the trail. People that run marathons have a little bit of a compulsive personality.”

“A marathon is the greatest athletic event out there,” he added. “It’s one of the few times in your life that you get a chance to see your soul.”

In addition to attracting world-class professional athletes who compete for more than $600,000 in prize money, the New York marathon accepts 40,000 runners through a lottery process. Not every Islander who applied for the lottery this year was chosen.

Julee Geier, 51, had hoped to run the bridges and streets of New York last Sunday, but did not make the draw. Yet that will not deter Geier from running her first marathon. In place of New York, Geier will run the Napa Valley Marathon with her friend and running partner, Margot Goyette, in March.

“It’s probably just as well,” said Geier. “I just started running about a year ago. The Napa Valley race may be better for us as beginners. It’s easier than New York because there’s a lot of downhill. We’re both looking forward to it.”

The 2008 New York Marathon men’s champion was Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, who finished with a time of 2:08:43. Britain’s Paula Radcliffe defended her 2007 title with a time of 2:23:56, becoming the second woman to win the race three times.

For full New York Marathon results, go to:

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