Fruitvale’s Heather Johnson finished first in the Kelowna Marathon 18 months ago to qualify for the Boston Marathon

Fruitvale’s Heather Johnson finished first in the Kelowna Marathon 18 months ago to qualify for the Boston Marathon

Johnson preps for amazing race

Fruitvale's Heather Johnson will complete the 117th Boston Marathon on Monday.

A Fruitvale woman is on her mark and ready to run in what is undoubtedly the signature event in the world of marathon.

Heather Johnson will compete in the 117th Boston Marathon on Monday, after qualifying by winning the BMO Kelowna International marathon in October, 2011.

The 26.2-mile Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s most prestigious road-racing events.

“I’m a little bit petrified, but excited at the same time,” said Johnson. “It’ll be a big day, a big event and hopefully a lot of fun.”

Over 26,000 elite runners qualified for last year’s Boston Marathon with Kenyan runners sweeping the top three spots in both the men’s and the ladies’.

Johnson who trains with the High Altitude Triathlon Club (HATC) in Trail is making her first run at the big race, in fact it will be just her third marathon ever. More accustomed to running half marathons Johnson surprised herself at the Okanagan International by not only meeting the qualifying time of three hours and 35 minutes in just her second full marathon, but also topped the podium.

“It’s kind of like in the triathlon world, qualifying for Ironman Hawaii – Kona – it’s the kind of thing where if you qualify it’s really tough to say no,” explained Johnson. “It’s so big.”

Beantown is a long way from the Kootenays, yet running in a pack of thousands against the world’s best marathoners does not seem to faze the 34-year-old relative newcomer.

“They are really well organized, so they have three different waves to start people and inside each of those waves they have nine different corrals, where you have to get herded in and take your spot.”

While Johnson works out with the HATC all year,  since Christmas she has been training with conviction for the marathon.

“That’s when I really started ramping up the volume and doing some hard workouts,” said Johnson. “Lucky enough, this year (the weather) was pretty cooperative . . . almost every weekend I was out running anywhere from 20 to 35-K and then during the week doing also sorts of hill repeats, tempo runs, and speed work and all of that good stuff.”

While Johnson has participated in ultra marathon long-distance races, Olympic and long-course triathlons, she says the marathon is a very different race.

“My Ironman friends tell me going out and trying to race a marathon for a fast time is tougher; but the Ironman marathon it’s just kind of survival, you just try to get through it, it’s already been such a long day.”

The weather in April can be unpredictable in Boston. The race in 2012 was marked by extreme heat up to 86F which took its toll on the runners, however, this year’s contest is forecasted for  a comfortable 55-60F.

Johnson and husband Chris Kent will make the trip, enjoying the sites and sounds while taking in the race and a Red Sox game.

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