Marathon running is a way of life for some people.
Then there are others, like former Triton resident, Gaye Roberts, who use marathon running as something more than a 42-kilometre challenge.
For the 48-year-old runner, who now lives in Gander, running marathons gives her an opportunity to spark up some great conversation with her fellow long-distance runners.
“Over the years I found that I’m a distance runner. I don’t like the Tely 10, and I don’t like 10-km runs. I like marathons…you meet a lot of people during a marathon run, and you always find good conversation,” said Roberts last week. “A marathon run is a good pace, and if you’re doing a 10-km run, you’re not going to have a good chat. I met people who sparked up a conversation about donating a kidney to their sister, and I met a lady who was fighting cancer…I really enjoy conversations during a marathon, and not many people can say that.”
Recently, Roberts completed her 16th marathon — the Kentucky Derby Marathon in Louisville, KY, on April 28.
The long-time runner recorded a time of 3:34:43 and finished fourth of the 95 competitors in her age group.
If not for a pylon that may or may not have suddenly jumped out at her, she wouldn’t have sustained some nasty road rash, and she firmly believes she would have finished in the top-three.
“I was trying to run a 3:30, and I was with the 3:30 pace bunny, so I had to run a kilometre in five minutes. I was right on target, feeling strong for 22 kilometres, and then there was this big decline with pylons along the way showing you where to go,” said Roberts of her first race crash, showing the effects the fall had on her hands, knees and elbows. “My foot hit the corner of one of those pylons, and I fell, and sustained a lot of road rash. I got up, and like we always tell the kids at pre-school, I kept going. I lost a couple of minutes, so for the next three or four kilometres I started running four-minute kilometres to make up for the lost time, but I think that caught up with me.”
Keeping it all in perspective, Roberts said she was happy that she didn’t break any bones as a result of her fall, and was still happy with the time she posted.
Marathons will always be special
Roberts was originally heading to Kentucky for a family reunion with her husband, Bob Simpson, who ran in the Kentucky Derby Half-Marathon.
“I’ll go for a run when I’m stressed, and when I get back I don’t even know why I was so stressed.” - Gaye Roberts
When the two first met, Simpson was already an avid race runner, and the first race Roberts ran was the Tely 10.
Her husband also competed in that event, but was a little more prepared than Roberts.
“I didn’t train for it, and I almost killed myself, but I finished in 75 minutes and everybody told me that was a good time,” said Roberts. “When I crossed the finish line, I was beat out, I felt terrible, I thought it was just the worst experience, and I thought I was never going to do it again.”
However, Roberts continued to race, and the Kentucky Derby Marathon was her 16th to date.
Whenever she heads out for the 40-plus kilometre run, she’ll always think about her first one, which ended like a fairy tale.
“We went to Hawaii on a vacation, and Bob’s friend noted that a marathon was happening the same time. We checked it out, and that marathon was happening on the tenth day of our vacation,’ said Roberts, who ran her first marathon at the age of 40. “Bob really wanted to do it, so I told him I would do it on one condition: For eight days we’ll eat badly, drink what we want, and relax; and on the ninth day we would drink water and eat pasta. When I went through the finish line, Bob said, ‘Now that I know you can run 42 kilometres, I’ll marry you,’ and he proposed to me.”
She plans on running her next marathon in Ottawa, but doesn’t expect to return to the Kentucky Derby Marathon.
It’s not that she didn’t enjoy it, as she said the run was one of the most beautiful runs she ever competed in.
She doesn’t like to run the same race twice, because she wants to continue running different events.
After she runs Ottawa, who knows?
One thing is for sure, she’ll continue to train, which, in turn, helps her run her business of overseeing nine NewFunLand Daycares.
“Marathon running helps me run the business. I’m working with 50 employees, so most days are good and some days are more challenging,” she said. “I’ll go for a run when I’m stressed, and when I get back I don’t even know why I was so stressed. When I come back from running I write a lot…I make business decisions when I’m running because my mind is clear.”