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Published April 19 2010

Wagner: Locals lace up for 114th Boston Marathon today

For many thousands of runners, the Boston Marathon represents the best in the sport.

Qualifying for the race – which will be run for the 114th time today – can become an obsession, a motivator to train through blizzards or awake before sunrise on weekend mornings just to run 20 miles.

Steeped in tradition and mystique, the Boston Marathon serves as our sport’s Super Bowl.

Unlike most running events, you can’t just simply sign up and go. Runners must earn their way into the race by meeting time standards based on age.

My personal quest to qualify has prompted quite a bit of personal reflection. And the nagging internal struggle about how it might happen.

But there really is only one of two ways: Get faster or grow older.

I’m not in a hurry to grow older, so I’ve focused efforts on getting faster.

But the quest for speed isn’t an easy transformation. It’s turned into a tougher struggle than finishing my first marathon and I’m still working toward my qualifying time.

A survey, once published in Runner’s World magazine, reported 13 percent of runners need six to 10 marathons to notch a qualifying time for Boston. The next 26.2-mile race on my calendar – Grandma’s Marathon in June – will be my seventh marathon.

One of the most appealing parts about the Boston Marathon is that everyday athletes are part of the legend. The mass of people is overwhelmingly comprised of people who hold down regular jobs, raise families and go about their days just like everyone else.

Some day, maybe in 2011 or perhaps several years from now, my running plan includes a pilgrimage to Boston.

Until then, I’ll keep plugging away, and cheer on those who have made it.

Among those I’m cheering are several area runners registered for today’s Boston Marathon:

- David Backlund, Michael Bannach, Josie Danz, Greg Dean, Tom Donaldson, Tanner Goldade, Christopher Hass, Tricia Promersberger, Jodi Roper, Jennifer Stark, all of Fargo

- Lynae Hansen-Lardy and Maria Weller, both of West Fargo

- Patrick Gross of Harwood, N.D.

- Lonnie Pederson of Oxbow, N.D.

- Britt Beeson of Detroit Lakes, Minn.

- Steve Bratlie and Jerry Rick, both of Breckenridge, Minn.

When time allows, I’ll peek at the marathon Web site at www.baa.org to track their progress.

Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found at www.areavoices.com/runningspud. He can be reached at (701) 241-5542 or swagner@forumcomm.com.