Boston Marathon Bound

*** An article published in The Tennessean ***

Spring Hill runner qualifies in first attempt By CHIP CIRILLO

Some runners compete for decades without qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Marc Krejci qualified in his first attempt.

The runner from Spring Hill earned a spot with a time of 3 hours, 7 minutes, 23 seconds at the 2004 Chicago Marathon, giving him a 113th-place finish in the 20-24 age group. Any time of 3:10:00 or below qualified runners between the ages of 18-34 for Boston.

"Some runners will run for 30 years trying to get into Boston," Krejci said of next Monday's race. "That's why I figured I better do it. I didn't want to pass it up."

*** Continued inside the paper ***

Hilly Boston course doesn't deter Krejci - Spring Hill's marathon man runs Monday race

By CHIP CIRILLO

SPRING HILL -- Marc Krejci didn't run in the 2005 Boston Marathon, but he could have.

The 25-year-old Spring Hill resident earned a spot in the mother of all road races by running a qualifying time the year before in the Chicago Marathon. Luckily for him, there was a two-year window for qualifying.

He wanted to take a year to save up for travel and hotel accommodations.

On Monday, his goal is to run a 3:20:00 in the famed marathon. The hilly Boston course is more difficult than the flat one in Chicago.

"It's a different course, which is why people's times are a bit slower," said Krejci, who trains on hilly terrain in the Nashville area. "I think that contributed to the speed in Chicago, too. Here in Nashville, we're training with these hills. Then we go to Chicago and we don't have the hills, but we have these extra muscles to push us around."

The Boston Marathon will draw 20,000 runners, but the Chicago Marathon was twice as big with 40,000. "It's just the beginning that's tough," Krejci said. "You just can't freak out. You can get stampeded, absolutely. Everybody takes a different approach to it. I'm one of those that kind of goes out toward the sides."

The crowd starts to thin out between miles 3 and 5, and that's when Krejci tries to make sure he's with his pace group.

If Krejci achieves his goal of 3:20:00, he will probably be 70 minutes behind the winner. Hailu Negussie of Ethiopia won last year's men's race with a time of 2:11:45.

Krejci is amazed by the dominance of the Kenyans, who have won 13 of the previous 14 races.

"It's absolutely insane," Krejci said. "It's really inhuman. It's fun to see them lap you. At the Country Music Marathon you get to see them halfway through the race, and they're not even breaking a sweat. They're running a whole marathon at the pace I would run a 5-(kilometer) race in high school." Krejci, a former cross country runner at Fort Zumwalt North High School in O'Fallon, Mo., trains about 20-40 miles per week.

"I'm a commercial real estate agent, so I make my own schedule," Krejci said. "Generally I try to hit the road (for training) around 6:30 or 7 in the morning."

Krejci also enjoys sailing and mountain climbing. He climbed the 13,770-foot Grand Teton in Wyoming five years ago.

"That was the year they had all those forest fires," Krejci said. "The view from the top was really hazy."

He won't run in the Country Music Marathon on April 29 in Nashville because it's too close to the Boston one. Krejci does his longer training runs with the Nashville Striders Running Club because the group has water stations. He can't carry enough water to do the long runs by himself.

Krejci said he's had some frightening moments training on Spring Hill's Duplex Road when motorists swerved toward him, running him off the road.

"They'd look straight at me and I'd watch their steering wheel turn toward me," Krejci said. "I try to plan my route away from those busy intersections, but it's almost impossible to do when you're doing these high miles. I think a lot of people have the misconception that the runners shouldn't be on the roads and maybe they want to take it upon themselves to get us off the road."

Krejci said mental toughness is one of the most important ingredients for a runner. In a marathon, runners usually hit the wall between miles 16 and 18. That's when fatigue is the greatest. "I've been running since my sophomore year of high school, and I've never ran a race I didn't want to quit," Krejci said. "Running really is 85%, 90% mental. It's such a mental challenge."

Krejci will probably feel a sense of amazement when he arrives at the starting line Monday.

"I do feel incredibly blessed and incredibly fortunate in that this is my second marathon ever," Krejci said. "That's not a normal thing, and I realize that."