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Published October 09 2011

Wagner: Area runners post swift times at Chicago Marathon

Sometimes running can make even a seasoned marathoner emotional.

Late last week, a close buddy of mine, Jason Boutwell, journeyed to the Chicago Marathon, where he was joined by family and friends, aiming to run his first sub-4 hour marathon.

On Saturday night, Jason called to go over his strategy for the race, one of the world’s biggest and best. My goal was to listen, evaluate his goal and put Jason in the right mindset to put together a plan making the Chicago experience special and memorable.

The next morning, I logged onto the race website and set up runner tracking.

Fargo-Moorhead runners Eric Loeffler, Clare Kazmierczak and Gina Aalgaard Kelly all turned in terrific times, with Eric crossing the line 20th overall with a very impressive 2 hour, 20 minutes, 56 second finish. Other area runners also turned in heroic efforts.

But as the results streamed onto my screen, I began reflecting back on the conversation with Jason the previous evening. We talked about going for the brass ring. If you train for a goal, then you have to go for it at race time. Otherwise, you’ll never know what you’re capable of doing.

My buddy Jason set out with the 4-hour pace group and stayed on goal for about half the race before his splits began to slow.

And then I thought about his accomplishments, which made him a winner before even crossing the start line.

Here was my buddy who also set a goal to raise money for the Special Olympics and help others. When he reached his initial fundraising goal, he increased it. And when he passed the new mark, he raised it again – eventually raising nearly twice his original goal and placing among the charity’s top 10 fundraisers.

His motivation for running on behalf of Special Olympics was simply to help the charity because the daughter of a longtime friend was born with Down’s syndrome.

Reflecting on all his training and efforts to help others, it became clear: Jason is more than a marathoner and a winner in the race of life. He has character running deep into the fabric and core of what makes a person good, with their very actions making others’ lives better.

And I’m proud to call him my friend.

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Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found online at runningspud.areavoices.com. He can be reached via email at swagner@forumcomm.com.