May 19, 2006
By Jayne Gest
Old age creeps up on us all, but Bill Condee, director of Ohio University's School of Interdisciplinary Arts who ran the 110th Boston Marathon on April 17, is not giving in quietly.
Along with more than 20,000 runners, Condee, 52, ran in the grueling "Mount Everest of Marathons" where organizers brag about the hilly terrain. His goal was to finish in less than four hours, and he completed it in 3 hours and 54 minutes, placing 12,019th overall and 1,517th in his age division.
Condee said that running in marathons is his way of coping with his body getting older. He jokes that he's trying to run faster than the reaper.
His initial goal was to run in a marathon before he reached 50 and he beat that goal by four months when he ran in his first Columbus marathon. Before that he had run off and on for years, never taking it very seriously. He wasn't even looking to go to Boston. It was only when running his second marathon last fall in Columbus that the idea came up.
"I was running alongside a friend of mine and he said, 'Oh geez at this pace you could go to Boston,'" Condee said.
So instead of taking a break, he started training right away and unfortunately injured his calf. This setback made it hard to train for Boston's hills, which are so different from the very flat Columbus course, but that didn't stop Condee for a minute.
"You don't run a marathon by listening to your body," he said. "Part of the excitement is pushing your body to the limit. You have muscles cramping where you didn't know you had muscles and it takes sheer willpower to finish."
Despite the injuries and hardships – one time he broke his leg from running too much – Condee said he runs for the sheer physical pleasure it brings. He said it helps that it's good for his heart and keeps his weight down, but even without those benefits, he'd still be out there pounding the pavement.
Starting with an 8.5-minute mile in the beginning and slowing to an 11-minute mile at the end, Condee's defining moment came during mile 24 when he saw an inspirational sign that read: "The three most important words: I finished Boston."
And Condee did finish, satisfied and exhausted afterward and running the entire time.
He said he visited his 84-year-old mother the next day and they raced to see who could get up from a chair the slowest. She knocked over her cane and they both just stood there, looking at it on the floor, wondering who was going to have to reach for it.
As for the future, Condee said, "I'm taking some time off from marathoning. I promised my wife and my body, but my next big goal is the New York Marathon."
Jayne Gest is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.