Tanya Carter will have some support from above during her inaugural jaunt in the 117th running of the Boston Marathon next Monday.
The 45-year-old, a graduate of Kelly Road secondary school, was encouraged to pursue qualifying for the historic marathon by former Prince George Y volunteer running coach Joe Kelly, who passed away in Australia on April 1 after being injured in a race eight days earlier.
"He's just a great inspiration to myself and to all of our running friends and triathlon friends and the Iceman group," said Carter. "Joe has just been a great person in my life and a great motivator.
"It's going to take a long time for us to get over him," she added.
In Boston, Carter will be joined by fellow Prince George runner, and coworker at Ritchie Brothers, Steve Martin. Both Carter and Martin qualified for the Boston Marathon at the Kelowna marathon in 2011.
The marathon in Kelowna was Carter's ninth marathon overall, and the fourth time she had tried to qualify for Boston, having tried twice at the Calgary marathon and once in Sacramento, Calif. In Kelowna she ran the 42 kilometre race (26 miles) in three hours, 47 minutes, 56 seconds (3:47.56). Martin's qualifying time for Boston was three hours, 23 minutes.
A third qualifier from Prince George for Monday's race is Dennis M. Straussfogel, a 56-year-old citizen of the United States.
"Steve and I have worked together for quite a while and he motivates me because, well he's just a little bit older than me and he's a great runner," said Carter. "It was just really fun because we work together and it was fun to qualify and be going at the same time as him."
Carter and Martin will have a lot of time to chat about the race as they both leave on the same flight Thursday to Boston and Carter and her husband will be staying at the same hotel as Martin.
The two Prince George runners qualified for Boston at the same race but their journeys to get there were different. Carter ran cross-country when she was in elementary school, quit when life commitments took up her time and returned when she was going through a marriage breakup.
"I went through a time in my life that was hard and I remembered how good running was for me and I went back into it," said Carter. "The group of friends in the running group all meet together at Second Cup, and I would go there and it was just such a great community of support; they would get you out long-distance running, biking, skiing. It really helped with managing stress and being a good inspiration for my son to live healthy."
Martin took up running after he quit playing baseball in order to get into shape.
"I started running sort of from pole to pole as far as I could run," said the 53-year-old. "Eventually you just get better at it. I found out at a Labour Day Classic run that I was actually a pretty good runner and I set my sights on Boston after that."
Martin has completed three marathons, including the Victoria Marathon in 2010 when he was unable to meet the qualifying time for Boston and the Kelowna race.
"I've been preparing for [Boston for] nearly four years," said Martin. "It's the marquee event for a runner. It feels like I'm going to the Olympics almost and I've never been that much of an athlete to even think about Olympics."