Freezing weather doesn’t stop marathon runners

wcrenshaw@macon.comJanuary 18, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Probably the only people who don’t mind a 28-degree morning are those running 26.2 miles.

More than a 1,000 runners braved freezing temperatures to run in the annual Museum of Aviation Foundation Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K on Saturday.

“I prefer running in the cold,” said Kevin Patton, of Atlanta, after finishing with a time of 3:18. “It feels about 20 degrees warmer.”

He has run 38 marathons but this was his first at the museum.

Patton was disappointed at first to hear the course had been changed due to flood damage, but he said it turned out to be a good thing.

Ordinarily runners make one loop around the perimeter of Robins Air Force Base for the half marathon, then the marathoners go around a second time. But due to the damage, the course this year went along the back side of the base only, and back the same way for the half marathon. The marathoners then had to go out and back a second time on the same route.

Patton, 43, said he found that he liked it because with the length of a marathon, unless it is a large one, runners are often by themselves. Usually there are people along a marathon route cheering, and there were a few of those in spots Saturday, but not many since the race is on a secured military base. With the route change, however, runners were passing each other all along the way.

“We were giving each other support,” he said.

Seth Parker, 18, came from Denver to run his first marathon, and he did pretty well. A cross-country runner in college, he was shooting for a time of 3:05.

Parker beat that by about 10 minutes and was the second overall finisher.

“I’m really, really sore,” he said just after he crossed the finish line. “Those last six miles were definitely the hardest.”

He was inspired to run a marathon when he kept seeing the “26.2” stickers on people’s cars. Marathon runners get the sticker when they cross the finish line.

“I just thought, ‘I want one of those,’ ” Parker said.

He also didn’t mind the course change, and enjoyed the interaction with runners as they passed each other going back and forth.

“It was really fun to hear them and that was encouraging,” he said.

Nicole Groover, a Macon-Bibb County deputy, and Tracie Williams of Macon ran the half marathon together.

They achieved their goal of finishing in under three hours. They just started running a year and half ago when they joined a local chapter of Black Girls Run, which gets together regularly for runs.

“We did it to challenge ourselves,” Groover said, adding that they might try for the full marathon next year.

They admitted to taking some walking breaks during the race.

“We would have taken some crawling breaks if we could have,” Williams added.

The marathon is a fundraiser for the museum, sponsored by the Museum of Aviation Foundation and Robins Pacers, a local running group.

Zack Hill, 18, of Gainesville, was the top male finisher with a time of 2:35, a pace of just under six minutes per mile. Mariska Van Rooden, 34, of Atlanta, was the top female with a time of 3:11.

Among Middle Georgia runners, the top male was Rob Shugart, 45, of Warner Robins, with a time of 3:07. The top female was Janalyn Harelson, 30, of Warner Robins, with a time of 4:21. It was Harelson’s first marathon.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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