Thursday, April 24, 2014
For an accomplished marathoner, the years sometimes melt away as smoothly as the miles.
117TH BOSTON MARATHON
WHEN: Monday morning, 9:30 start for elite women, 10 a.m. for elite men and first of three waves.
WHERE: 26.2-mile route from Hopkinton to Boston
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop, both of Kenya
Joan Benoit Samuelson of Freeport will celebrate the 30th anniversary of her world-record run by once more covering the 26 miles and 385 yards from Hopkinton, Mass., to Boston in Monday's 117th edition of the Boston Marathon.
"I can't believe it was 30 years ago," Samuelson said. "It seems like yesterday in many ways."
Three decades ago, Samuelson lopped two minutes of the world record with a winning time of 2 hours, 22 minutes, 43 seconds. More than six minutes passed before another woman -- Jacqueline Gareau of Canada -- crossed the finish line.
The men's winner in 1983 was Greg Meyer of Michigan. He also plans to run Boston on Monday.
"It'll be fun to go back there, especially with Greg," Samuelson said. "We were the last two Americans to win in the same year. We've been close ever since."
Over the past two decades, nobody from Maine -- male or female -- has come close to Samuelson's winning time. That may change this year. Rob Gomez of Saco is looking not only to beat his 2:24 time from two years ago, he has a "pie-in-the-sky" goal of beating the fastest time he could find by a Mainer at Boston. In 1987, Benton native Bruce Bickford -- then living in Massachusetts -- finished in 2:18:57.
"That would be a stretch for me to hit," Gomez said. "But it's certainly on my radar."
Gomez's fastest marathon was the 2:23 he ran at Houston in 2011. A 29-year-old Bates graduate, Gomez recently knocked an astonishing 44 seconds off his best time over five kilometers by running a 14:18 at the Westfield (Mass.) 5K. His winter also including a victory (51:10) in the Midwinter Classic 10-Miler in Cape Elizabeth and a third place (1:07:14) in the New Bedford (Mass.) Half Marathon.
"I've had a breakthrough, I guess you could say," Gomez said. "I had a little wane in motivation early on in the winter and reached out to a friend, Jon Wilson."
A Falmouth native and 2011 University of Richmond graduate, Wilson is an assistant coach with the McMillan Running Company based in Flagstaff, Ariz. He took a look at the plan Gomez had in place, suggested a few tweaks and different workouts, and also gave Gomez some accountability. Suddenly, it wasn't a runner on his own, but a runner with a guide.
"Since I've been out of school and running on my own, I haven't had a lot of coaching," said Gomez, who connected with Wilson about two months ago. "So working with Jon has taken my running to another level."
Maine's top woman is expected to be last year's first American finisher. Sheri Piers of Falmouth placed 10th overall in last year's unusually warm conditions and also took second among female masters, resulting in a dual payday of $9,200.
Once again, she plans to be in contention for the masters title.
"We've had kind of a harsh winter, but everything's been going well so far," Piers said. "I haven't been outside as much as I'd like to, but for the most part, workouts have been going well."
At 41, Piers shows no signs of slowing. In fact, she ran her fastest marathon last fall in Minnesota, a 2:35.59 at Twin Cities. A month ago, she ran a 5:40 per mile pace to win the Gate River 15K masters title in Jacksonville, Fla. In January, she was the first female master at the Naples Half Marathon (1:16).
Temperatures along the course Monday are expected to be around 50 degrees for much of the morning, but Piers will be ready for anything.
"I try not to even look," she said, "because there's nothing you can do about it."
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: