Veteran marathoner crosses first at Columbia race

03/08/2014 1:28 AM

03/08/2014 11:41 AM

Here, some stories from the race course.

74 and counting. Justin Gillette said he didn't run Saturday's RunHard Marathon as fast as he wanted, because it's been a harsh winter for running with snow. 
Still, the 31-year-old crossed the finish line first, near the State House in downtown Columbia, winning his 74th marathon race. 
Tim Watson, who coordinated fundraising for the event, jumped in a patrol car and rode the last half of the marathon, watching Gillette and another runner neck-and-neck until the last couple of miles, when Gillette took the clear lead, Watson said.
Cheering them on. Janet Owings held up a poster board sign with an Easter bunny balloon and a Gamecocks balloon attached.

She was cheering on her son, Michael Lucas, 28 of Charleston, and everyone else in between.
She had a total of four signs aimed at being humorous. For example one said: "Hurry up ... someone farted."
Owings said the signs were a good distraction for runners.  "It takes their mind off hurtin'."

She was encouraging.
"I'm done," a runner slowing down told her.
Lucas, her son, stopped at about the half marathon because he was cramping. So he called his mom back from the hotel, letting her know he was done.
She said he sounded exhausted.
But it's still a lot more than mom could do.
"I am not a runner," she said.

The perfect handoff: On Sumter Street across from Town Theater, five volunteers set up Gatorade and Water cups at the halfway point of the Run Hard Columbia Marathon.

A circular table with hundreds of cups waited for the runners.

Some were filled with water, others Gatorade.

"You holler what you've got," said volunteer Allison Caldwell, who had two brothers running in the 5K and half marathon.
Runners would then grab what they needed as they passed.

"I've tried to perfect the handoff," said Maria Huff, who previously volunteered handing out water for a race in Lexington.

"You're going to end up getting messy, there's no doubt about it," she said.

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"Running is my therapy." The Bowersock couple ran a relay for a half marathon.
April Bowersock ran the first five miles and Travis Bowersock, who is in the Air Force, ran the last eight.
"We wanted to get one more run in before he deployed," April Bowersock said.
He leaves in two weeks for the Middle East, for his third overseas deployment .
They run together often to train and said they see each other at their best and worse.
When Travis is overseas, April runs by herself.
"Running is my therapy," she said.

From the playground to the big time. Susana Vandelay, 4, ran the last mile of the marathon with her teacher Stacie Mandrell, of Spears Creek Montessori.
Throughout the school year, they ran 25 miles on several different days by doing laps around the playground. 
The last mile they ran in the marathon, completing a combined marathon.






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