Runs Bring Out Veterans
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
August 13, 2007
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK – Martin Balding missed the first three Crater Lake Rim Runs marathons because he didn’t know about the race.
He won his first appearance in 1979, and he has attended the 28 races since then.
What makes the 70-year-old from Susanville, Calif., special is that he remains competitive.
Balding, who was second in the men’s 70-and-over division at the Boston Marathon in April, remained under 4 hours on one of the nation’s toughest courses, finishing 17th overall in 3 hours, 58 minutes and 6 seconds.
“I think at least one marathon a year is good for me, so I’ve been running at least one a year,” he said. “Crater Lake is the one of choice.”
The Rim Runs are combined with a family reunion, during which some relatives compete in the various events and others man the water and aid stations.
Balding has remained at or near the top of the Crater Lake leaderboard through the years, joining Alden Glidden as one of two runners to win three Rim Run marathons.
In addition to the victory in his debut, Balding won in 1986 and 1994, at age 57.
“My goal is always to find out what I can do,” he said. “I know I can do it. It’ll just take me a little longer.”
One leads to another
This is Balding’s third marathon of the year, starting with Boston. The Boston race motivated him to compete in the Catalina Marathon in California, then return to Crater Lake. It also helped him with his training, which has been curtailed in recent years.
Balding has run fewer miles in recent years and rested more, which may have kept him fresher for the charge up Grayback Drive during the final stage of the race.
“As far as I’m concerned, the marathon is in two halves, and the first half ends at 22 miles,” Balding said. “Just keep running.”
While Balding has reduced the volume of his running, Dharani Piplani, 60, has done the opposite.
The Phoenix, Ariz., resident began his marathon career in Pikes Peak, Colo., 14 years ago.
He eased into marathon running, running about 10 per year the first five years, until he joined a club whose members attempt to complete marathons in all 50 states.
Since then, business has picked up to the point where Piplani completed his 813th marathon Saturday. He didn’t wait long to run No. 814, traveling to Bend for Sunday’s Haulin’ Aspen Trail Marathon.
Each event Piplani enters gives him a look at himself, as well as the sport.
“It’s been more to do with looking introspectively to see what is the real purpose of running for me,” he said. “Am I growing up mentally, or am I just collecting fabric and hardware?”
– BY Josh Petrie