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Marathon madness: Island Rotary Run trains Boston runners

The Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest and most prestigious, continuously run marathon, completed its 111th running on Monday, April 16. The lingering rain from a late spring Nor’Easter and even a forecast of 55-mph winds, didn’t stop thousands of runners from taking part in the event. Included among them, were three Mercer Islanders: Timothy Steege, 53; Roger Larson, 62; and Christina Faine, 40.

The Boston Marathon is not only the oldest U.S. marathon but as a premiere road race, runners must qualify for it with a certain time in a previous marathon. The “BQ” or “Boston qualifying” time sets the standard for marathon times for every age and gender group around the world.

The three Islanders who went to Boston also ran in the Mercer Island Rotary Run half marathon that took place on the Island three weeks ago as a warm up for the big race. In the half marathon, Steege placed 176th with a time of 1:39.31, Larson placed 567th with a time of 2:02.16, and Faine placed 126th with a time of 1:49.15.

Two other well-known Seattle-area runners both ran in the Rotary Run half marathon and Boston Marathon. Uli Steidl of Shoreline placed first in the half marathon with a time of 1:06.15. He placed 12th in the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:19.54. His wife, Trisha Steidl, ran in the Rotary half marathon placing fourth overall for women with a time of 1:23.31. She placed 34th in the Boston Marathon, clocking in at 2:54.37.

The rainy Island weather was ideal for preparing participants for this year’s Boston Marathon, which was the coldest and stormiest Boston Marathon in years.

Timothy Steege has run 11 marathons, his first was five years ago in the Napa Valley of California. This was his second time completing the Boston Marathon. His first time out in 2004, he ran it with his daughter, Dana, an MIHS grad.

Steege said running in the half marathon at this year’s Rotary Run was crucial in training for the Boston.

“I’ve done (the Rotary Run) a lot. The first time I did the half marathon, I couldn’t even run the whole thing. I ran eight miles and walk-ran the rest. But I kept at it, and after you’ve completed a half, it almost anchors you to try to complete a full marathon.”

This year, Steege ran the 13.1-mile course then continued on his own for another six miles in order to get in a longer run to prepare for the full 26-mile marathon distance.

Steege, who completed this year’s Boston in a time of 3:34.52, explained the draw of running the Boston Marathon as a hallmark to runners because of it’s long, continuous history. Boston is the only marathon in the world that has continued yearly, without pause since 1897. Following the 1896 success of Olympic marathoning, Boston was the first to commission a yearly event, making it the most acclaimed road race in the world.

“It has a certain historical mystique to it,” he said. “It’s not a particularly pretty course, it’s drab even. Mercer Island is much nicer. But it’s historical and special. Marathons are everywhere, but Boston stands out.”

Another Islander, 62-year-old orthopedic surgeon Roger Larson, ran the Boston Marathon for the second time as well. He completed it in a time of 4:37.55. Larson had previously run four marathons when he was younger — his first was 27 years ago — but had taken a break from marathoning before coming back this year and last, for the Boston event.

“I do it for the fitness and it’s a challenge,” said Larson. “I’m 62 and I want to keep at it.”

Larson took part in the half marathon at this year’s Rotary Run as well.

“It’s perfect having that three weeks before the Boston Marathon,” Larson said. He also trains by running trails and streets that crisscross the Island.

“I have lots of little favorite areas to run on the Island,” he said.

Last Monday’s run also marked the second time Islander Christina Faine completed the Boston Marathon. She ran it in a time of 4:21.56, which she said was slightly slower than her time in 2001, which was her first Boston.

“I turned 40 just four days before the Boston, so I kind of ran it for that milestone,” said Faine. She has done a total of six marathons. Her first was the Seattle Marathon in 1997, and her most recent — her Boston qualifier — was the Portland Marathon on October 1, 2006.

Faine also ran in the half marathon at this year’s Rotary Run.

“I felt under-trained, I was getting over an illness so I hadn’t gotten as many long runs in as I would have liked,” said Faine. “The half marathon was really good to get in right before the Boston.” In addition to the Rotary Run, Faine also took to running to and from her office downtown Seattle, where she is a public information officer for the City of Seattle.

“Anything to get those miles in,” she said. “The hills on Mercer Island are good preparation for Heartbreak Hill in Boston. It’s a tough course.”

Heartbreak Hill is a notorious half-mile stretch of the Boston course. Though the hill rises only 80 vertical feet, it is the last of four hills on the course, and hits runners at the very end of the 26.2-mile race.

Will any of these Islanders be jogging off to other marathons any time soon?

“We’ll see,” they all said.

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