Marathon junkie sets the example
Special to the Appeal
There is something special about running a marathon, just ask Chuck Engle. He had a lot to say about the subject, even as he stood on the lawn at Bowers Mansion Regional Park Sunday after winning the Silver State Marathon.
“It’s such a euphoric feeling you get when you finish a marathon,” he said. “You cannot explain it to someone. They’ve got to do it for themselves. I’ve done 10K’s, half marathons, triathlons, there’s just something about a marathon, it’s huge.”
That explains why the 35-year-old marathon man from Columbus, Ohio, is running 52 this year, which translates to one per week. Sound like pain for the knees and ankles? You didn’t hear anything like that from the “Marathon Junkie,” as he’s billed on his Web site (chuckengle.com). He’s run 34 so far, with 18 to go.
“I’m running a marathon every weekend and I’ve been blessed,” Engle said. “God has been good to me. I’ve been focused and I’ve been able to stay healthy and run well consistently.”
Engle, a three-time small college All-American at Mount Union College (Alliance, Ohio), has been consistently impressive. On Sunday, he finished in a time of 2 hours, 44 minutes and 52 seconds over a challenging 26.2-mile route through Washoe Valley that includes hills as well as a five-mile stretch of sand in Washoe Lake State Park – not to mention the 5,000-foot altitude. Just don’t tell Engle that this course is slow.
“One of the things I was concerned about was the altitude, but other than that, it was a surprisingly fast course,” he said. “I think the course has gotten a bad rap. I’ll be dead honest, this has the potential to be a very fast course for someone who lives at this altitude. I can see times in the 2:30s being run here. You had that one slight incline at 20 miles, the only thing that hurt me there was the altitude, and the sand might give you a little slippage, but other than that, everything else is gentle and rolling. For someone who trains up here all the time, this could be a fast course.”
Engle’s fastest times of the year so far have been 2:31.34 at the Sarasota Marathon on March 5 and 2:32.28 at the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon in Portland on July 4. His slowest was 2:54.54, which was good enough to win the Gateway to the Pacific Marathon in Elma, Wash., on July 23.
Consistency? Engle finished 355th at the Boston Marathon (2:48:16), just two days after he finished second at the Charlottesville (Va.) Marathon (2:48:37).
“For the most part, the races I’m doing aren’t huge,” Engle said. “I’m just out to have fun. It’s great to come to a place like this and get to talk to people afterward … free massages, the food is great, the volunteers have all done a wonderful job with this race, it’s beautiful … it’s just been a great experience coming here.”
Engle’s long-time running acquaintance, Bryan Smith of Thibodaux, La., – who ran to second-place in 2:48:21 – pointed out the beauty Washoe Valley and the Sierra offer.
“It is beautiful,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen so much wildlife during a marathon. I saw a bobcat chasing a jackrabbit, a coyote, deer, Canadian geese, cattle, dead snakes. I even saw bear scat.”
Obviously, the runners were relieved they didn’t actually see any bears.
“At that point, you start thinking, “Am I running fast enough?,” Engle said.
Smith was quick to make one point to his friend. “I wasn’t worried about being fast. I just had to be faster than you,” he said with a laugh.
Engle’s marathon tour – which is serving as a fund-raiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital – includes the St. Jude Memphis Marathon on Dec. 2. And on April 23, he was in his hometown Clinton, Miss., to run the Katrina Relief Marathon (he won in 2:46:00). During this tour, Engle hopes to promote awareness for the children of St. Jude – and for marathon running.
“To me, it’s not about winning. I just want to go out each race and give it my best shot,” Engle said. “One of the reasons I’m doing 52 this year, if someone sees me do this and that I’m doing one every weekend, when I get to the finish line, I hope they say to themselves, ‘He made that look like fun.’ And I hope they get out and say, ‘I can do that.’ Anybody can get up and go do something for themselves.”
Upcoming local races … The second Silver Run will be held Saturday starting at 7 a.m. from the Delta Saloon in Virginia City. There will be both a 10K and 2-mile run/walk, and be ready for some trails and hills in both races.
The event is being held as a fund-raiser for Hugh Gallagher Elementary School. For information, call race director Sue Moulden at 847-0977.
On the Run is written by Erick Studenicka and Dave Price, both members of the Sagebrush Stompers running club and former sports writers for the Nevada Appeal. They can be contacted at email@example.com or (775) 882-2111, ext. 362.