“Run Karen Run……they’re gonna win! Those are the words I heard at the first of many stops along the Beautiful WhistleStop Marathon Course in Ashland, Wisconsin. At mile 5, and every 5 miles or so after that, I had an amazing support staff who made my first Boston Qualifier the most memorable WhistleStop Race ever! To be honest, out of the 21 marathons I have run, this one is my favorite! WHY? This was my first Boston Qualifier and it was absolutely an incredible day. There is something about that first BQ you’ll never forget! If you’re a marathon runner, you can probably relate. And if you’re trying to qualify or like me, hoping to re-qualify, its worth working hard for!
I never had an interest to return to Boston after running the marathon in 2006 but since the bombing, I have had the strong desire to go back. Thankfully in 2013 I missed qualifying by 2 minutes at the Wine Glass Marathon out in New York. At the time I was very bummed but thankfully I didn’t make it because that would have put me at Boston during the tragedy. I was overwhelmed with sadness, and I am really glad I wasn’t there. God Is Good All The TIME! I’ll run Boston again some year, but until then, if you would like to check out the WhistleStop, here’s some snippets of my run.
First off, let me introduce you to my support staff: The Krengels…..Quentin, Lisa, Caitlin and Josh. They did a great job cheering me on, making sure I had everything I needed throughout the 26.2 mile course! They were AWESOME!
This is me at mile 5, the first stop and you can see, Josh had a perfect view to shout out, “here comes Karen!”
Here I am at Mile 5 looking so HAPPY to see my crew. Seeing Caitlin and Josh’s smiles along the course made such a huge difference. They never stopped rooting for me!
I grabbed my refill of my Shaklee Performance, my beverage of choice, from my enthusiastic friends and away I went; but not without Josh yelling…….”Run Karen Run……..” It was so cute!
WhistleStop is located up in Ashland, WI and it happens to be one of the most scenic routes I have run. It starts in Iron River and we run along the Old Railway Track through some woods, and finally into the quaint little town of Ashland. The course is one of my favorite and I have run it several times qualifying for Boston for the first time in 2005. Although I returned several times after and qualified again and again, this one will always be especially meaningful.
One of the things I love about the course is the soft surface…..a rail-trail paved with limestone gravel….it’s much “friendlier” on the legs than an asphalt surface and its mostly flat. This is great when conditions are favorable and to be honest, most of the time when I have run this marathon, it’s been perfect such as on this beautiful fall day in October. It was breathtaking and God’s creation is spectacular. The colors couldn’t have been more perfect. The temps were awesome for running and there was very little wind. And I felt GREAT!
I am checking my watch one last time…….
Happiness was seeing my crew at the finish?
I qualified with a smile on my face and plenty of time to spare but back then, it didn’t matter, because if you qualified you were guaranteed a spot if you wanted to run Boston and trust me……..I DID! Times are a bit different now needing possibly minutes below qualifying time to be sure you get in but that’s ok……I’ll do it again. Possibly this year? Josh and Caitlin are in there teens now, but are more than willing to be my cheering section again ……..possibly over in Dublin Ireland some year…..stay tuned?