Archive for Thursday, May 6, 2004

Stansberry has Boston Marathon experience

May 6, 2004

By Jeff Myrick

Baldwin City Signal Editor

Long-time long-distance runner Glen Stansberry took a trip to his sport's mecca -- the Boston Marathon -- and it's something he'll never forget after all those thousands of miles of running that led up to it.

"No, I'll never forget it," said Stansberry, a 2002 graduate of Baldwin High School who is now a sophomore at the University of Kansas. "Yes, it was really sweet."

Stansberry's running pedigree is well documented through a cadre of state championships while running for Mike Spielman's Bulldog track and cross country teams. There were four straight Class 4A cross country titles and a pair of state track titles during his four years at BHS.

That all led up to his experience in the grueling, 21-mile Boston Marathon on April 20.

"It really did top everything off," said Stansberry. "It was just one of those things that you get used to with all that running. This all led up to this. I learned a lot from the Spielmans."

Stansberry spent most of his junior high and high school running days running in packs. That's what long-distance runners do, whether they're on the track or the rolling hills, straight-aways, etc., of cross country.

But the pack of the Boston Marathon was like none other. Stansberry was one of around 19,000 runners. As was his style throughout high school, he wasn't the one to break the tape at the end, but he was certainly at the top of the heap. Stansberry received a conformation letter the other day that said he finished 3,679th.

That's not too shabby when compared to the number of entrants. Still, Stansberry thinks he could have done better.

"I didn't run nearly what I wanted to time wise," he said. "It was a real big struggle. In mile 10, I cramped up because I hadn't had anything to eat."

But there's where the rest of Stansberry's Boston Marathon comes into play. It's the massive effort to get that many runners started in a race and the multitude of people involved along the race's many miles.

Stansberry had flown into the Boston area the weekend before the Tuesday race. He stayed in Providence with another BHS track legend, Hugh Murphy, who throws the javelin for Brown University. Despite an early start on Tuesday it proved to be a stressful morning just getting to the starting line.

"There were a lot of setbacks getting to the race," said Stansberry. "The bus driver who was supposed to take us from Providence to Boston at 5:45 a.m. never showed up. We had to figure out how to get there on the train.

"Then we had to find another bus. I got on one that was for elite athletes and heard the bus driver talking about it and realized I was on the wrong bus. I asked her where the bus was that I was supposed to be on and she said it's that a way," he said. "I had to run through the city to get to it. There were about 1,000 people waiting for those buses."

The travel issues just kept going. It was finally determined that the busses were lost. A call went out to the Boston bus system to save the day. The "T" sent eight busses and those were loaded up and headed to the starting line.

But, that's where Stansberry missed out on eating before the race.

"We finally got on the bus at 11:45 and the race started at noon," he said. "It was an experience. I was nervous the whole time."

He finally got in the correct starting "corral" and off they went. That's when he got to experience the interest that the race draws. A year ago, Stansberry ran in the Austin, Texas, Marathon and that's how he had qualified for the Boston big-time event. There was no comparison.

"It was amazing. You start in Hoppingtown, which is about the size of Baldwin, and run through five or six small towns on the way to Boston," he said. "There were people cheering us on all the way. They were handing out oranges and drinks and hosing us down as we went. It was hot for that time of year in Boston.

"Everyone was so supportive. I had a Jayhawk shirt on a people would yell about that. It was sweet. The marathon in Austin had a few people along the way, but nothing like this," said Stansberry. "There was a section where you run by the all-girls college that Hillary Clinton graduated from. All the girls stand along the road and scream. It's deafening. I actually had one of them grab me. They aren't used to people their own age running."

All-in-all, it was quite an experience, he said. While meeting people before and after the marathon, he was amazed by what it meant to them that he was a participant.

"They treated you like a different person," said Stansberry.

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