Local runners celebrate in Boston
SARANAC LAKE — Six Tri-Lakers crossed the finish line in Monday’s Boston Marathon, and on Thursday, three of those runners caught up with the Enterprise to share some of the experiences they had as participants in a field that numbered more than 26,000 strong.
Tupper Lake’s Amy Farrell, Jan Wellford of Keene and Saranac Lake’s Julie Baird (formerly Bowler) all turned in impressive finish times to qualify to run in the race again in 2018. Other local finishers were Kirk Fasking, Darci Lafave and Rachel Stanton — all from Lake Placid.
Farrell ran in her second straight Boston Marathon and can add another great result to her long list of accomplishments in a pretty amazing career as an endurance athlete. For the second year in a row, the 39-year-old slipped in under the three-hour mark.
In her first Boston Marathon appearance in 2016, Farrell got the job done with 10 seconds to spare when she crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 59 minutes and 50 seconds. On Monday, she shaved another 27 seconds off that time, completing the 26.2-mile distance in 2:59:23.
Farrell said she felt much better this time around, and although her finish time was just a little quicker than last year, the result ultimately landed her in 89th place overall among the 11,973 women who finished the race.
“Last year, I wanted to break three hours but I didn’t have a great leadup to the race,” Farrell said. “I ended up doing it by the slimmest of margins — 10 seconds. This year, I had a better buildup. The race just felt good and Boston is really a pretty magical place with all the people there. I just really tried to take it all in and enjoy it.”
Farrell said Monday’s race was her seventh marathon, although she’s also run that distance in the many Ironman races in which she has competed. Farrell said during those long races, she often thinks about her family, including her daughter Ruby, a seventh-grader in the Tupper Lake Central School District.
Farrell said on Monday her thoughts also turned to a friend and Couer Sports teammate, Moria Horan, who was slated to participate in the race but was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I often think about those athletes who don’t get to be out there,” Farrell said. “Moria was supposed to be running Monday, but was receiving her first treatment on Monday.
“She’s in her mid 60s and she’s a really special lady,” Farrell continued. “She brings people up to Lake Placid for training camps. I think she’s going to be OK. We messaged each other and she was riding her bike the next day.”
Farrell, who was the women’s overall Ironman Lake Placid champion in 2015, and also claimed an age group World Championship Ironman title in Kona, is next eyeing two triathlon races in June. She plans to compete in the Syracuse 70.3 event, and then is looking to make an appearance the next week in her hometown Tupper Lake Tinman triathlon.
Farrell won the women’s 70.3 crown in the Tinman a year ago, but said she hasn’t decided which distance she will enter in the event this year.
Farrell also said she’d love to be back running in the Boston Marathon next April, and if that happens, she’ll move up an age division as a 40-year-old.
“My time this year would have put me in the top 10 as a 40-year-old, so it would be nice to get back at that age and see how I do,” she said. “I don’t think anything can top the Boston experience. I don’t think I could stop smiling. I don’t think it was for any particular reason. I was just smiling.”
Wellford is a native of the Boston area, and on Monday he reached the finish line in the marathon for the fourth year in a row. Now 35, Wellford grew up in Hingham, Massachusetts on the South Shore, and has been returning to the area each April to spend Patriots’ Day with members of his family.
His two goals were to have fun and finish fast enough to qualify for next year’s race. For Wellford, it was mission accomplished on both fronts.
“Growing up there, it’s always been a special day in my heart,” Wellford said. “It’s the best day of the year. My family is there watching, Boston is celebrating, it’s great. For me, it’s always another chance to be in Boston on my favorite day.”
Wellford finished in 3:06:56, which was well behind his PR of 2:55 set in his first appearance in the race. But then again, he was just looking to have the opportunity to run the race again next year.
“This was slowest by far, but I really didn’t train,” he said. “Mostly, the mission is to enjoy a family tradition, have a nice day in Boston, and take in the enthusiasm from the crowd and the other runners.”
He traveled to Boston from Keene with his wife Meg and two young children Finn and Tilly.
“Sometimes it’s tough on a trip like that with young children, but they were great,” Wellford said. “I saw them about a mile from the finish and they all gave me a wave.”
Wellford’s specialty is trail running, and later on this summer, he has 50-plus ultra trail running races in Ithaca and the Catskills on his schedule.
Baird, a 24-year-old who now lives part time in Saranac Lake and also in Oakville, Ontario with her husband Mike, was running in her first Boston Marathon. The former Red Storm distance standout who went on to compete at the next level at Utica College, reached the finish line in 3:29:12.
“Everything was so amazing, it’s still kind of a blur,” Baird said. “I really studied the race, read a lot about different people’s perspective of the race mile for mile, but when you’re actually there, it’s kind of surreal. I think the last turn heading toward the finish, when you see the mile 26 mark, that was my favorite part. It was so incredible running with Olympians and professionals on the same course on the same day. I won’t forget it.”
Baird qualified for the race by completing last May’s Toronto Marathon in 3:18:50, and said she would have liked to do a little better on Monday.
“I’m glad I qualified for next year, because I want to redeem myself,” she said. “The running conditions were a little different than when I trained. I think the high was 72 degrees, and during training, temperatures were more like the 40s and 50s. I just kind of rolled with it.”