By Polly Keary, Editor
Brian Sutter had never run a marathon before. But he was a cross country and track star as a Monroe Bearcat and all the way through college. He’d just finished competing at the NCAA 5,000 meter event for Claremont McKenna College. He was still in great shape from the training, so he thought he might as well give marathon a shot.
So June 16, he entered the San Francisco marathon, along with more than 6,000 other runners.
He ended up finishing in fifth place.
He had no idea he’d do that well, said the 2009 MHS grad.
“I didn’t know what kind of shape I was in,” he said. “On May 25, I competed at the NCAA in the 5,000 meter and I got 14th. I trained all the way up to May, and I thought I should try to run a marathon before I got out of shape.”
Back home in Monroe from school, he drove to San Francisco the day before his birthday and got up at 3:45 a.m. to clear heavy security at the starting line.
“Then I got on the line and ran for 26 miles,” he said.
It was a beautiful race, he noted. He ran on the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun rose, saw the island of Alcatraz and the city of Berkeley in the dawn, and watched an ocean liner pass below the bridge over which he was running. He ran up the waterfront Embarcadero and through the Haight-Ashbury district, too.
All the while, he kept track of his speed by noting the mile markers and checking his watch. He was careful to maintain a punishing six-minute mile pace.
“I kept realizing I was passing people,” he said. “So I asked the race volunteers, ‘How many people are ahead of me?” and they’d say, ‘Oh, nine.'”
He’d never even considered the possibility that he’d finish in the top 10.
But at the finish line, he realized he’d finished in two hours, 37 minutes and nine seconds, and that only four people had run it faster. He had also come in first in his age group.
“I was pretty astonished,” he said.
Running 26 miles was grueling, he added.
“It was really fun for the first 13 miles, but the last five miles I got really fatigued,” he said. “I felt like my calves were going to cramp. I picked up my pace the last three miles, crossed the finish line and felt like a 95-year-old who could barely stand or walk or do much of anything.”
But that won’t deter Sutter from future marathons. His performance easily qualified him for the 2014 Boston Marathon, and he is planning to run it.
And now that he’s out of college with a degree in government, he’s got to find some way to stay fit, he said.
“I think I’ll do Boston and if I do well, maybe I’ll keep racing,” he said. “I have to find some avenue to direct my running hobby.”