There’s no other race like it.
Marathoner Willa Wanke is still coming down from her runner’s high after her first Boston Marathon on Monday.
The sub-3:30 marathoner said she wanted to enjoy every step of the way. And she sure did.
Taking her camera, Wanke stopped to take selfies and high-fived onlookers along the way. She chatted with other runners and stopped at every water station to thank volunteers.
“Everybody said to enjoy it,” said Wanke. “I set out for my first Boston Marathon to have an experience and not race it.”
Wanke, 50, who has been running for about 20 years has qualified for Boston several times.
“The people own that race,” she said.
“I’ve never felt as encouraged, admired or had such a warm welcome as there. You are a runner.”
Wanke stayed at a hostel where she relished in story after story from runners from all over the world.
To qualify for the iconic race, Wanke needed to run a four-hour marathon. Last year she qualified at the Calgary Marathon. She re-qualified for the 2017 Boston Marathon with her 3:46:44 time at this year’s race.
Next year the vice-principal of Jessie Duncan Elementary School in Penhold will head back to Boston and “do it properly.”
Wanke said all the hard work to qualify for Boston is worth it. She said Boston is a runner’s mecca where everyone is treated like an elite athlete.
The after party at Fenway Park with the other runners was amazing, she said.
“The best part was the atmosphere,” said Wanke.
“It was so happy. Everybody was really happy and talking to everyone. It was a community feeling.”
People have said to her that Boston is where you do your victory lap after the months of training.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Wanke.
“I have been injured for a lot of the winter so I haven’t done a long run since October. I thought, ‘I am going,’ I don’t care. It was a big year. It was the 50th anniversary of the first female to run it. ”
For those looking to qualify for Boston, Wanke suggests runners sign up for a flat course such as the Okanagan Marathon in Kelowna or the California International Marathon.
Wanke credits her determination and success to her running friends in Red Deer.
“Part of why I was there was the runners that I run with it,” said Wanke. “It’s a community. The people you run with help everybody get there.”
Also at Boston this year were Central Alberta runners Chris Capicio, 33, of Red Deer, who ran 3:32:27 and Patrick Hewitt, 46, of Penhold with a 3:21:13 marathon time.
SAVE THE DATE
There’s still time to sign up for Only Women’s Fitness Fun Run on May 7 at River Bend Golf and Recreation area.
Partial proceeds from the event will go to Central Alberta’s Women’s Outreach, an agency devoted to supporting women affected by family violence. Distances include 10K, 5K, 3K and 1k. All events will be chip timed. There’s also a 500-metre Little Ladies race and a 100-metre Diaper Dash
For more information visit www.womensfunrun.com
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