Local runner goes the distance at Boston Marathon

June 5, 2009

By Jim Feehan

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After running in a few local marathons, Wayne Pietz wanted to compete in the nation’s most prestigious distance events in the world: the Boston Marathon.

Wayne Pietz

Wayne Pietz

But not just anyone can run in the race; they first have to qualify. 

Pietz, 57, of Newcastle, qualified for the race by posting a time of 3 hours, 44 minutes at the California International marathon in December in Sacramento. He needed a qualifying time of 3 hours, 46 minutes for his age category. 

“I came in with two minutes to spare,” he said.

A runner for the past 30 years, Pietz has run in the Seattle Marathon, the Seafair Marathon, and several half marathons and 10-kilometer runs. On May 3, he competed in the Lilac Bloomsday run in Spokane. He finished the 12-kilometer (7.6 miles) course in 57 minutes, 52 seconds.

Competing in the Boston Marathon is stepping up to the next level.  

“Boston is a league all of its own,” Pietz said. “It’s a world-class event. I’m just humbled to have participated in the Boston Marathon.”

The race is steeped in tradition. It is the biggest event on Patriots’ Day, a Massachusetts holiday the third Monday in April that commemorates the 1775 showdown in Concord and Lexington between colonists and British troops. The course winds up and down hills for 26.2 miles through seven towns before ending in Boston. 

Pietz’s training for the marathon included running through Newcastle streets, along Newcastle’s Pipeline Trail, in Cougar Mountain State Park and along the shores of Lake Washington. 

“Training provides rewards, both physical and psychological,” he said. “A marathon is an adventure, and the discovery of a new course is always an experience.”

Pietz was born in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, and grew up in Spokane. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in civil engineering. Pietz works in Bellevue as vice president of Northwest engineering operations for URS Corp., a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company.

Pietz met famed U.S. distance runner Bill Rodgers at the marathon. Rodgers, 61, won the Boston Marathon in 1975, 1978, 1979 and 1980. This year’s event was Rodgers’ first Boston Marathon since 1999, when he dropped out because of dehydration. He returned after a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2007 and surgery last year. 

“I walked over to him and simply told him I wished him well,” Pietz said. “He received me graciously as a fellow runner. That’s a special moment I will always remember.”

Pietz said he plans to continue to test his limits, set a personal record and hope to qualify for Boston again.

“I want to run one or two marathons a year for as long as I can,” he said.

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