For Elmira resident Brent Densmore, it wasn’t the countless hours of training required or the recommended special high-carbohydrate diet or even the peak physical condition necessary that proved to be the toughest part of running the Boston Marathon: it was the crowds.
“There were people lining the streets – everyone screaming and having a good time,” he said. More than 13,000 people ran alongside Densmore Apr. 19, and that was only the first wave of participants. “Typically I run alone, so this was definitely a change for me.”
Amateur and professional runners from all over the world compete in the Boston Marathon each year, braving the hilly New England terrain and varying weather to take part in the race. The race is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s most prestigious road racing events. The Boston Athletic Association manages this American classic and the event has distinguished itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity and method of gaining entry into the race (qualification). To qualify to run the Boston Marathon, entrants must run a qualifying time at a certified marathon.
The qualifying times are determined by each runner’s age on the day of the marathon. For Densmore, a communications technician at the University of Guelph, it was three hours and 30 minutes. Finishing last week’s race with a time of 3:29:40 means he has qualified for next year’s event.
His run in Boston marked his ninth marathon; he has participated in the Scotiabank race in Toronto four times and the St. John Ambulance Waterloo Marathon four times. Since 2004 (with a brief hiatus due to injury) he has completed two marathons every year.
Some people train for several years to keep up the eight-mile-per-hour pace that is required of marathon runners, but for Densmore it simply comes naturally.
“I have always just been good at running,” he explained.
When he was 15 years old, he competed in cross-country running at the provincial level and hardly trained at all. From there, he just began to run farther and farther, starting with a four-kilometre run, then eight, then 21km – a half marathon.
“I started running that far because I was given a long lunch break at work,” he said with a laugh. “There are only so many errands you can run before you have to find other things to do to fill the time.”
Now he runs a path throughout Guelph on his lunch hour or, if the weather doesn’t cooperate, he will run up and down the stairs at his office for up to 40 minutes at a time. When in Elmira, he runs from his Birdland home out to the Crossroads Family Restaurant, around the Listowel Road loop and then back through Wallenstein.
But despite his impressive feat, Densmore maintains that he runs purely for the challenge of it, not for recognition or accolades.
“Running is my time alone to just think,” adding with a laugh that “mostly it just keeps me off the couch.”