Marathon junkie wins his 20th marathon |

Marathon junkie wins his 20th marathon

Dave Price
Special to the Appeal

To a baseball pitcher, reaching the 20-win plateau in any given season is always reason to celebrate. On Sunday, Chuck Engle became a 20-marathon winner in 2006 by running his way to a gold medal at the 30th annual Silver State Marathon.

But for the 35-year-old “Marathon Junkie” from Columbus, Ohio, there was no need to celebrate the victory. After all, it was his 35th marathon so far this year, and he was simply happy to be at Bowers Mansion Regional Park.

“I’m running a marathon every weekend and I’ve been blessed,” said Engle, who bills himself as “Marathon Junkie” on his Web site, “God has been good to me. I’ve been focused and I’ve been able to run well consistently.”

Engle led virtually all the way through the 26.2-mile loop through Washoe Valley and finished in a time of 2 hours, 44 minutes and 52 seconds under weather conditions that were ideal for August.

He was chased to the finish by long-time running friend Bryan Smith, 44, of Thibodaux, La., who finished second in 2:48:21. Mark Lantz of Galt, Calif., was third in 2:58:53 – the only other runner to break three hours in the race.

“He pretty much pulled away from the start,” Smith said of Engle’s race. “I was back there, and he knew it. He knows I finish strong, so that motivated and pushed him.” The top Carson City finisher was Michael Strobel, who finished ninth overall in 3:35:40. The first woman to finish was Megan Curtis of Highland, Calif., in 3:49:09 and Perry Pownall of San Francisco was second in 3:52:48.

Of interest, Engle’s winning time was the fastest at Silver State since Nick Bingham ran 2:42:44 in 1997.

“To run this fast at altitude, I’m tickled,” he said. “This is the best time I’ve ever run above 5,000 feet, so I’ll take it.”

The performance is especially noteworthy considering the altitude and hills of the Silver State Marathon, not to mention a sandy five-mile section through Washoe Lake State Park.

“One of the things I was concerned about was the altitude, but other than that, it was a surprisingly fast course,” Engle said. “I think 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. You have 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.”

Smith, who has run 11 marathons already this year, was pleased with his performance on Sunday. It was especially impressive considering he was limited to a liquid diet after breaking his jaw in a mountain bicycle accident the first week of July.

“This was a real test today,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what I would do. After the accident, I was limited what I could do because my jaw was wired shut. I was still wired shut two weeks ago when I ran a three-mile race in a swamp through the spillway – and I still beat three of the four runners from LSU who were there.”

Smith has experienced a test of survival since Hurricane Katrina ravaged his hometown New Orleans last September.

“I was at the 17th Street Canal break … You could see that from my apartment,” said Smith, adding that he now lives with his parents in Thibodaux. “It’s been tough coming back for a lot of us. We’re all going through a lot of adjustments. My lifestyle has changed, it’s been the same for anyone who runs down there. We’ve all had more important issues to deal with than just races.”

Sunday’s marathon was a special occasion for John Kiewicz of Los Angeles, a 1988 Carson High graduate who returned home and finished 27th overall in 3:55:25. This marked his 11th marathon in three years.

“It was nice to get back home, though this marathon got the better of me,” Kiewicz said. “My last marathon was 25 minutes faster, so it was humbling. I wasn’t used to the altitude and sand, but I’m glad I did it. I used to come to Bowers Mansion when I was a kid and I’ve done a lot of photography here … it was nice to come back and see all the wildlife and to see just how beautiful it is.”

Kiewicz, who graduated from the University of Nevada with a degree in journalism in 1992, currently works as Senior Feature Editor and Senior Photographer for Motor Trend Magazine (a year ago he set a world record for the world’s quickest Dodge Viper SRT-10). His father, Edward, worked for the Carson City Fire Department for 30 years and retired as a captain.

Notes: Darrin Rohr of Reno won the half-marathon in 1:19:28, followed by Rene Olea of Reno in 1:24:42. Jennifer Shaffer of Kalamazoo, Mich., was the first woman and fifth overall finisher in 1:28:10. The 10K was won by Ryan Ress of Reno in 36:01, while Carson City’s Michael Goralka finished a close second in 36:07 and Agustin Arroy of Carson City was fifth overall in 38:24.