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Group of seven will run seaside marathon course

Mark Schongalla will run in his first ever marathon this weekend. And according to the Madras resident, it may also be his last.

Schongalla, 50, says that in jest, but after completing the 26-mile course in Newport Saturday, who knows what might be going through his, or anyone else’s mind.

“We will see what happens,” Schongalla says.

Schongalla is a member of MADras Runners, a local club that promotes running and fitness, and will join some of his fellow members in the 26-mile run. Others that are going include Sara Hertel, Steve Webb, Rick Moon, Jon Powell, Martha Bewley and Jamie Hurd.

The group chose this marathon over others because, in part, of when it was being held, and the fact that it has a reputation of being a flat yet fast course that is good for a first marathon. It is also a United States Track & Field certified course as well as being a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

All of those factors played into the group deciding to run in it.

While some making the trip have experience in running a marathon, Hurd, Hertel and Webb have, others do not. And as the old saying goes ‘for everything there is a first time’, and Schongalla said he wouldn’t even be in a position to attempt this if not for the training and encouragement he has been getting from his fellow club members.

“It’s been a challenge, no doubt about it. It’s a lot of miles and a lot of commitment,” Schongalla said. “When you are a hundred years old like me, it’s just keeping everything going. This probably wouldn’t happen without the group.”

Schongalla said it would be easy to quit without the support of other runners. They make it hard to stop, he said.

If there is any anxiety on Schongalla’s part it is physical. He worries about breaking down during the run and not being to physically finish it the way he would like.

“The last four miles (worry me),” Schongalla said. “And coming out to fast. I have to make sure I don’t burn myself out.”

In order to make the qualifying time for Boston, which is a goal, Schongalla said he would need to average about eight minutes a mile. Which is doable, but he said anything under four hours would be good.

And that is where the training comes in.

The decision to run in Newport came in January and training started almost immediately. The group mapped out a regiment and, for the most part, has stuck to it.

There are weekly jogs with some 5K or 10K runs thrown in. A big part of the process has Saturday morning runs from Madras along the Willow Creek Canyon Trail to Pelton Park on Lake Simtustus, some seven-plus miles.

Webb, who has run a marathon before, said training this time around has been much better.

“The first one, I was by myself,” Webb said. “I didn’t know what I was doing; I just went out and ran. I didn’t know how to train. So running with this group has been a lot different. And better.”

Hertel, who has one marathon under her shoes, ran competitively in high school and college and continues to run as a way of staying in shape and enjoying time with friends. She and Hurd are usually found out on some farm road early in the morning taking in a nice jog.

“It’s a great goal to just finish one,” Hertel said. “I’m a very competitive person, and I love that feeling of running better. The last time I ran a marathon, I didn’t train nearly as well as I did this time. I’m excited to see how fast I can run.”

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