Cochrane running hero Martin Parnell is looking to once again make his mark on the international marathon scene as he prepares to run in the 2020 Boston Marathon. The iconic and historic race has been running since 1897.
Parnell qualified for the Boston appearance during the 2019 Servus Edmonton Marathon on Aug. 17 and 18 in which the race was celebrating its 28th anniversary. Parnell ran in the men's age 60 to 69 category, finishing 10th with a chip time of 3:46:23 when the 42-km race was all said and done.
"I've actually run in the Boston Marathon three times. The first time I did it was way back in 2004, I started running at the age of 47 so I was kind of late to running. I did my first marathon in Calgary in 2003, the Toronto marathon in October of 2003 and I qualified for my first Boston race in 2004. I then ran it again in 2008 and a third time in 2010, during the year where I ran 250 marathons."
Parnell's qualifying time meant he cracked all the goals he set for himself over the weekend in Edmonton."I had the three goals: Beating my previous time of the four hours and 10 minutes, which I did. The next one was to beat the four-hour target and I did that. Finally, the big goal was to break the three-hours-and-50-minute mark to qualify for the Boston Marathon and I did that," Parnell said. "I ran a time of three hours, 46 minutes and 23 seconds."
"It was perfect running conditions for me. It was overcast, a little bit of drizzle so it was cool and it's a really flat course so that helped. Not a lot of hills or anything like that so I was able to run at a good pace ... they have the pace bunnies in the races, and I kind of worked myself along with them. I had a few aches and pains along the way but I did my nutrition and hydration and was able to push my way through."
Parnell said there were certain points in the race where he knew he'd hit on all of his goals.
"By 32 kilometres I felt like I'd got the four-hour-and-10-minute mark, the four-hour mark, I thought around the 37-kilometre mark that I figured I had that one and then finally with the time I needed to qualify for Boston. It wasn't until the final kilometre that I kind of knew that I had this and to just keep going," Parnell said. "I basically had 10 minutes to do a kilometre and when I got to the last 100 metres, I was able to do a little fist pump and was able to give my wife, Sue, a kiss on the way to the finish line so that was a pretty cool moment."
Parnell will now wait until Sept. 10 to register for the Boston Marathon that will take place in April of 2020. He will keep himself busy by running in his annual Dec. 31 run down by Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre. That will be his 10th and final edition of the run/walk fundraiser.