Blugolds take on Eau Claire Marathon

Story by Thom Fountain

When asked what got junior David Hon interested in running, he didn’t hesitate:

“It all started in early high school while I was kind of just starting to become interested in girls,” Hon said, laughing. “So I wanted to get in shape, lean up and I started, on my own free will, going to the gym and running.”

He’s come a long way since those early days. Sunday marked Hon’s third Eau Claire half marathon, an event benefitting the Eau Claire YMCA that featured a variety of races ranging from 2 to 26.2 miles.

Patrick Russell, 35, of St. Paul, Minn. won overall for the men’s full marathon with a time of 2:50:59, and Lisa Tavares, 31, of Colfax, Wis. took first place for the women with a time of 3:21:51.

In the half marathon, Chris Wirtz, 23, an assistant coach for the UW-Eau Claire men’s cross country team, came in first overall with a time of 1:15:42. Erin Manlove, 25, of Minneapolis won the women’s category with a time of 1:27:48.

Hon said he keeps coming back to the annual Eau Claire Marathon because of how well it’s organized and the perks that come with it, including a nice t-shirt, plenty of water stations, massages and other “bells and whistles” that make the race stand out among other locally organized runs.

Even the best-organized race can’t stop Mother Nature, though. Sunday morning brought heavy winds and light snow flurries, with temperatures dropping into the low 30s.
Senior organizational communication major Alicia Gerber said the weather deterred some of her friends from running.

“If you go into it with a poor attitude, you’re just dooming yourself,” Gerber said, adding that distance running is all a mental game.

Hon, who also had friends drop out due to the weather, said the cold and wind was actually helpful for him and contributed to him having such a good time.

“Everyone there really just took the weather in stride and everyone shared in the experience,” Hon said. “I just felt more bonded with the people around me because they were all going through the crappy weather.”

The two big races, the full marathon and the half-marathon, brought in 316 and 1067 runners, respectively, mostly from Wisconsin and Minnesota. Forty-three teams participated in the marathon relay, where four runners split the race evenly.

Hon said one of best parts about running is that it’s something anyone can do, even if they think they can’t. Gerber agreed, adding that she was amazed to see an older gentleman — who Gerber guessed was in his 80s — running the full marathon.

“Often, she said, “the biggest doubter turns out to be yourself.”