Marathon No. 11: ‘You’re in first place!’

After a surprisingly smooth recovery after a magnificent Mesa Falls, I started having some impure thoughts about riding this wave I was on. The local Lewis and Clark Marathon was just four weeks after Mesa Falls, and about two weeks out, I started thinking about running L&C as well.

But I first needed a test run. I decided go for about an hour and 40 minute run halfway between the races. If I felt good, I’d go for it. I did, so I did.

I didn’t do much other running during that period. There was no need.

The start of the weekend that Lewis and Clark fell on was a busy one. I drove, with two colleagues, to Ogden, Utah on Friday to cover a Saturday afternoon Montana State-Weber State football game. I was the beat writer for MSU, so travel was part of the job.

If an away game was within a six-hour drive, we rented a car. If not, we flew. Ogden is six hours away from Bozeman. Keys please.

The good thing was I could rest my legs. Another positive was that I was able to convince my co-workers to drive back Saturday night for the race the next morning. We could have stayed in Ogden another night, but I wanted to save the company some money, so I took one for the team ….

OK, I selfishly wanted to be back in Bozeman so I could run another marathon. I knew I wouldn’t get home until after midnight and the race was a 8 a.m. (Bus for the start left at 7), but I also figured that as long as I got between four and five hours of sleep, I’d be OK.

Who sleeps well the night before a marathon anyway? Certainly not me. It’s the sleep two nights before that matters the most.

I got to bed at 2 a.m. and was ready to catch the bus just before 7. Prior to boarding, I went over to a table to pick up my bib number. Celia Bertoia, who ran the timing company for the race, handed me No. 1. I couldn’t believe it.

Here I was running my second marathon in a month – thinking there was a possibility that I might have to drop out if my legs gave out – and I’ve got the No. 1 bib? I felt a lot of pressure, at first, to live up to that number. You don’t dog it when you’re bestowed that honor.

But after about five minutes, the monkey leapt from my back; I figured it wouldn’t be a huge letdown if I wasn’t in top form. Actually, I’m quite flattered. It’s just another aspect of running I never expected would happen when I started out in Bennington in 1999.

The race went well from the start. I wasn’t trying to break 3 hours – not on this course. The hills are too difficult. And I was in about fourth place on the nice downhill section leading up to Mile 10. I know I passed two runners en route to Mile 22.

When I hit Mile 25, the race director saw me and said, “You’re in first place.”

“No I’m not,” I replied.

“Yes, you are.”

I didn’t believe it. Since there was a half marathon happening concurrently, someone must’ve slipped in unnoticed.

No way, I thought.

And on I went.

On the last mile, I emerged from a trail that leads runners to the track at Montana State U. for the final quarter-mile. And there was another race official. He knew me, and he greeted me enthusiastically.

“There’s the Lewis and Clark Marathon champion!” he yelled.

No way, Jose.

Then I heard the volunteer get on his walkie-talkie. He was alerting the track announcer.

And as I approached the track, I heard this:

Ladies and gentlemen, here comes your marathon leader, Tim Dumas!

Goose bumps….

Now I started to believe it. When you hear something enough times, you think, maybe…

But after I made my first turn on the track, the announcer spoke again.

Ah, correction….


Darryl Nourse, an up-and-coming local runner, had already finished. How he didn’t get the treatment I received, I’ll never know. He ran a 3:05. I ran 3:08. Top three again, but still the bridesmaid.

I surpassed my expectations for this race, although I should have not run at all. The two marathons in such a short time left one of my Achilles tendons quite stiff and sore for about four months.

But without this race, I’d never have a No. 1 bib (I think I saved it somewhere) and that final mile was surreal, even though I knew deep down that I wasn’t in the lead.

What a year it was. And the best was yet to come. China. Fatherhood. Nothing beats that.





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