Keith Parks (second from left) was the first Kelowna runner to complete last week's Boston Marathon in three hours 21 minutes 26 seconds. Randy Werger (second from right) finished in 3:24:33

Locals soak up Boston experience

After running in 65 previous marathons, you’d think the novelty just might have worn off for Keith Parks.

Not so when it comes to competing in the most prestigious 26-mile 385-yard race there is on the planet.

The 50-year-old Parks ran in the Boston Marathon last week for the seventh consecutive year, posting his best time yet in three hours 21 minutes 26 seconds.

“The novelty never goes away when it comes to Boston,” said Parks. “That’s the reason people want to run it, it’s the most prestigious one there is. The history there is wonderful, and the atmosphere is like nowhere else. I’ll run that one until the day I die.”

On a seasonably pleasant day in New England with temperatures rising into the 60s F, Parks knocked 3 1/2 minutes off his previous best mark in Boston.

The conditions were clearly conducive to fast times as the overall winner, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya, posted the fastest marathon in the world to date in 2:03:02.

However, due some of the course’s features, it isn’t being recognized as a new world record.

For Parks, the race couldn’t have gone much better in the throng of more than 24,000 runners.

“Everything was stellar,” said Parks, a paramedic in Kelowna, who will run in about 10 marathons this year. “For me it’s always about goal setting, I had an excellent game plan, and it worked so it was a very happy day for me. Obviously, with a new world record, it was a really good day for a lot of people to be running.”

And it’s not just the race itself that keeps Parks coming back year after year. The social aspect of the Boston Marathon happens to be a big bonus.

“We had a wonderful post-race meal, there were four of us from Kelowna, there were people from Kansas, Florida, Texas, Las Vegas, Ohio…it’s about people coming together from everywhere and enjoying the social side. I really enjoy my time on and off the course.”

Finishing not far behind Parks was Kelowna’s Randy Werger in a time of 3:24:33. The 51-year-old Kelowna runner, entered in Boston for the second time, bettered his former standard by about four minutes.

Werger also made certain he absorbed this year’s marathon more than thoroughly than his first time there in 2006.

“My goal this time was really to enjoy the race,” he said. “The first time I put too much pressure and emphasis on the time. I kind of missed the whole point of it. This time I had a better day overall, I enjoyed it and I ran well.

“As always, the crowds were great, kids are high-fiving you,” he continued. “You get to the mid-point and you can hear it coming, the noise from the Wellesley all-girls school, it’s pretty amazing. Your ears are ringing when you come out of there.

“Just having the fans all the way along the course makes it so much better to run the race.”

Pat and Corinne Gable have made the Boston Marathon one of their spring traditions over the years, but the registrations filled up before the Kelowna couple could get in.

Instead, the Gables signed up for the Gansett Marathon on the Saturday before Boston in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Corrine finished the Gansett in 3:45, while an injury prevented Pat from running.

However, Pat still managed to set a new record in his fifth visit to New England. He consumed nine bowls of clam chowder, surpassing his previous high mark of eight.

Seven other Kelowna and area runners completed last week’s Boston Marathon.

Their times and ages are: David Lynn, 46, 3:26:01; Penny Nobozniak, 40, 3:42:07; Laura Steinke, 34, 3:43:47; Kim Baldassare, 43, 3:55:33; Tim Purcer, 54, 4:04:29; Alison Leon, 45, 4:05:07; and Helen Handcock, 61, 4:32:08.