NEWS | May 20, 2009

Two USSTRATCOM runners finish the Boston Marathon

By Maj Belinda Petersen U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

Ms. Ramona Lucas, Foreign Affairs Planning Specialist
Ms. Ramona Lucas, Foreign
Affairs Planning Specialist

Two U.S. Strategic Command marathoners participated in the Boston Marathon on April 20, along with 22,898 runners in the 113th annual event, which is the oldest consecutive sporting event in the country.

Cdr Douglas "Shoe" Walker, Nuclear Current Operations Chief, and Ms. Ramona Lucas, Foreign Affairs Planning Specialist from J007 ran a total of 26 miles and 385 yards to complete their first Boston Marathon.

Not just anyone can run this race, arguably the world's most famous marathon. Qualifiers must run a marathon that has been certified by the USA Track and Field and meet the designated time standard that corresponds to their age group before entering into the Boston Marathon.

With a qualifying time of 3:18:43 at the ING Atlanta Marathon, Walker's life-long dream was getting closer. "When I was in high school, I saw an article in the sports section regarding Alberto Salazar's 'duel in the sun' with Dick Beardsley. I was enthralled by the history of the Boston Marathon and the challenge of running 26.2 miles," said Walker.

Cdr Douglas "Shoe" Walker, Nuclear Current Operations Chief
Cdr Douglas "Shoe" Walker,
Nuclear Current Operations Chief

Walker, who is not new to running, ran several dozen road races in the past 15 years in the U.S. and Japan. While deployed to the Persian Gulf onboard USS ENTERPRISE, Walker would run on the treadmill or the flight deck. Back at home, his wife supported him by riding her bike alongside him and giving him water during his long training runs. Also, Walker did a lot of running at Offutt's Field House, running 35 to 40 laps on the indoor track to escape Nebraska's cold winter months.

All of his hard work and determination paid off. On Patriot's Day, Walker lived his dream. "Boston is like a 26 mile long block party! All along the route, people crowded the streets and cheered on the runners. Each town [tried] to out-do the others. Biker bar patrons handing out oranges, children reaching out for high fives, frat houses serving beer instead of water and of course the Wellesley college girls creating the wall of sound," said Walker. He finished in downtown Boston with a time of 3:28:00.

Lucas qualified at the Quad Cities Marathon with a finishing time of 3:46:41, a good enough time for someone ten years younger than her could qualify with. Unlike Walker, Lucas did not start running until she was 40 years old. "I had a good friend who was a runner and he told me there was no way I could just start running," Lucas said. "I told him I'd be running a marathon by the time I was 50. "

Not only did she rise up to the challenge, she exceeded it by running three marathons. After her third marathon, she was already on the internet looking for another marathon she could run. Lucas is also a member of the Omaha Running Club.

During the Boston Marathon, Lucas kept a consistent pace and never felt that she could not finish. She credits not hitting a wall or having any injuries or pain to all the training she put into preparing for her race. Lucas' finishing time was 4:04:29, qualifying her yet again to run next year's Boston Marathon. "If I can get my friend to go, I'll run with him, but I might be ready for a different challenge," she said. "You have to do these things and enjoy life while you can. "

The 113th Boston Marathon had the second-highest participation record, after the 100th anniversary edition in 1996. Deriba Merga, from Ethiopia, won the race in 2:08:42, a 4:55-minute pace per mile. Salina Kogei, from Kenya, was the first female to finish in 2:32:16, a 5:49-minute pace per mile.

Ernst van Dyk of South Africa won the push-rim wheelchair division for the eighth time. Winning the women's division for the third-consecutive year was Japan's Wakako Tsuchida.

The third-place finishes of Ryan Hall and Kara Goucher put an American man and woman in the top three in the same year, the first time since 1985.

Four-time Boston Marathon winner Bill Rodgers, now 61, ran on Patriot's Day for the first time in a decade – this time finishing in 4:06:49, running with friends.

Patrick Harten, an air traffic controller for the US Airways flight that ditched successfully into the Hudson River last January, wore bib #1549 in honor of that flight number, and ran a personal best of 2:49:19.

The number of female finishers, 9,311, was the most in Boston history.