Trail runner Mike Hendriks joined close to 40,000 other participants in one of the world’s biggest events on Sunday, as he legged out a personal best time in the Boston Marathon.
Hendriks completed the 26.2-mile marathon in a time of two hours, 53 minutes and 43 seconds, a personal best for the 31-year-old Fortis worker.
“I wouldn’t have traded it for anything especially this year,” said Hendriks. “It was always my plan to qualify for 2014 . . . but then the bombings happened and it really doubled my resolve to get out there and do it.”
Bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, in which Fruitvale runner Heather Johnson competed, killed three people and injured close to 300. While Hendriks was mindful of a potential threat, he was not too concerned about running in 2014.
“I wasn’t worried,” said Hendriks. “I mean you always wonder what could happen . . . but I think the city was out in full force, and they were keen to show that this isn’t going to keep them down or the whole sport of running really. It was great, the energy was just incredible.”
Hendriks ran his first marathon just two years ago in Vancouver where he just missed qualifying for Boston. However, a year of training later, he qualified for Boston after completing the 2013 BMO Vancouver Marathon last May in 3:01, four minutes to spare for the 3:05 qualifying time. He finished the race in 17th place out of close to 500 runners in his category.
But the Fortis worker didn’t start out like most competitive runners, spending years training in track or long-distance running, or building stamina with triathlon groups like Greater Trail’s High Altitude Triathlon Club.
Hendriks mapped out his own plan.
“I have a 16-week training plan that I just kind of got off the web that I thought it was going to be a good one, and I’ve used that two, three years in a row, and it’s served me well.”
To run in Boston was a unique opportunity for the Trail native, and while the support and atmosphere was electric as millions lined the route that started in Hopkinton, New England, and ended near John Hancock Tower in Copley Square in Boston, the sheer volume of runners and spectators was overwhelming.
“It was great, I think saying there were a million people along the course would be probably conservative,” said Hendriks. “There’s probably a lot of people that draw energy off that kind of crowd, but living in Trail, and having my quiet, serene environment, I actually found it a little bit distracting.”
Running a marathon anywhere is not a walk in the park, and hitting the proverbial wall is inevitable says Hendriks.
“Thirty kilometres is kind of the mark when people hit the wall. But I went over the 30-K mark, and went ‘Okay, I’m not doing too bad here.’”
Hendriks finished in the top five per cent of participants, an incredible accomplishment considering his relatively brief running history.
It was an unforgettable experience for the Trail native, and while he will continue running marathons, with his soon to be son or daughter on the way, a return to Boston will have to wait.