Father, daughter poised to run their first Boston Marathon

Chris Martin and his daughter, Lara Martin. - Courtesy photo
Chris Martin and his daughter, Lara Martin.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Some parents connect with their children through movies. Others through books. Some watch football or play golf together. Chris Martin and his daughter Lara Martin connect through running marathons.

What began as a diversion turned into a serious hobby for the two. When Lara was at Oregon State University in 2011, she invited her father to visit and run the inaugural Corvallis Half Marathon with her.

Lara, 25, has run on and off for most of her life, including cross country at Kentlake High School and the occasional half marathon. "I think my longest run before we started training was 14 and that was when we were training for half," she said.

Chris hadn't run for quite some time but decided it would be worth it as a way to stay in touch with his daughter.

Three years later the father-daughter duo from Kent qualified and registered for the Boston Marathon on Monday. Lara qualified with a time of 3 hours, 26 minutes and Chris, 57, qualified with a 3:31.

Lara said that her initial reaction was surprise. "It was surreal." But that surprise and excitement was tempered.

"It kind of doesn't hit you right away. We didn't know if we'd get in even though we qualified. We weren't sure there'd be any places left, we weren't sure there wouldn't be people faster than us," she said.

Not all marathons are created equal. Runners who hope to participate in the Bostom Marathon must run Boston Athletic Association (BAA) approved courses. One such course is the Light at the End of the Tunnel marathon from Snoqualmie Pass to North Bend. Those who finish with qualifying times will receive a letter from the BAA notifying them that they're eligible to register. It's important to note that the fastest times are picked, not just the first registrants.

"If you sign up Monday and someone else signs up Wednesday during the signup period, they'll get picked to go and you won't," Lara said.

As soon as they got home they had to submit their times and intent to register, because the registration closed the next day.

"It kinda all happened really fast, and afterwards was just like 'did we just really do that?'" Chris said.

"There's different things I like about running," Lara said. "When we run together, it's social and a way to spend time together, but sometimes I like running by myself just to be quiet and clear my head. And I'm very competitive and I like racing."

They both agreed that the hardest part of qualifying wasn't the race itself, but the training leading up to it. Unlike a three-mile run which can take a half-hour for people in shape, the two try to take an hour at least to run on their training days. Their longest distance was 32 miles over four to five hours.

"Its about arranging time," Chris said. "It's a balancing act at times, sometimes when I've got the time I encourage her to go when she might not want to and vice versa."

Living on the east edge of Kent, the two have no shortage of trails to tackle. From Soo's Creek Trail to the Green River Trail, they've tackled a wide variety of different routes to prepare for marathons.

To be running at Boston at 57 years old is no small feat, and Chris can appreciate how much progress he's made in such a short time.

"I'm kind of an old man, so I'm really excited. At my age to qualify for Boston I'm pretty pleased."

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