Matt Folk of Perrysburg spent Monday night hanging on to handrails and gingerly stepping off curbs after getting his first experience with the Boston Marathon’s famed Newton hills.
Folk, who has dominated northwest Ohio road racing for the last several years and who won the Glass City Marathon in 2009 and 2010, finished his Boston debut Monday in a time of 2:34.52, placing 145th overall out of 26,895 runners.
The runners were helped by ideal temperatures in the upper-40s and a steady wind of 21 mph that was at their back the entire way on the point-to-point course.
“I felt great early. We were lucky we had the tailwind. I felt good through miles 8 to 10, then I fell off around 14 or 15. By mile 22 to 26 I was running with a couple of walk breaks,” Folk, 35, said. “By the end you start negotiating with yourself about whether you want to gut it out. Once you start crashing, there’s no coming back.”
Folk, who was hoping to run in the low 2:20s, hit the halfway point right on schedule at 1:10:10, but then began to labor in the Newton hills, a series of four hills beginning at mile 16. The rugged portion of the course is capped by Heartbreak Hill, which begins roughly at the 20th mile.
“We drove the course on Friday night, but the biggest surprise to me is how it is constantly going up and down. Even the first mile, which is a net downhill, is rolling,” Folk said.
Few people realize that the Boston Marathon course actually has a net decline of 459 feet, despite the hills later in the race, which is punishing on runners’ quads and hamstrings. For Folk, he had trouble preparing on the flat roadways of northwest Ohio.
“It was a neat experience. I was able to get in with the elite start, and we were all waiting in a church together before the start. I was sitting 10 feet away from Catherine Ndereba, a four-time Boston Marathon winner, and all these people I watch on TV.”
Folk was joined in the race by Brad Miller, 28, who attended Central Catholic. Miller of Maumee finished with a time of 2:42.41, good for 281st place.