GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN — Those who ran in the Grandfather Mountain Marathon July 13 were greeted with an early start at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Those who got to MacRae Meadows at Grandfather Mountain were greeted with an enthusiastic crowd welcoming them to the finish.
Caleb Bowen, an assistant track and cross-country coach at Marshall University, set a solid example for his student-athletes by winning the marathon. He gave himself a birthday present, as his 26th birthday is July 14.
Twenty-six miles run one day before his 26th birthday.
“My birthday is my 26th, so I needed a marathon to do,” Bowen said.
The women’s winner, Shenna Patterson of Charlotte, had made the podium by finishing third in 2018, but improved on her finish July 13.
“I had so much fun last year that I wanted to come back and do it again and try to improve my time a little bit,” Patterson said.
Bowen said Marshall runs against App State “all of the time,” but it’s usually in West Virginia. Bowen expressed a desire to have the Thundering Herd make a trip to Boone and compete against the Mountaineers.
“They come to our indoor meets and we’re trying to find a way to come to one of their outdoor meets,” Bowen said.
Bowen, who said he started distance and marathon running because he was not a fast sprinter, said the climbing that Grandfather Marathon affords was the hardest part of the course.
“I really didn’t do a good job looking at the course,” Bowen said. “I was just praying that it would stop going up and it never did.”
Patterson, who is originally from Vermont, finished third in the women’s marathon in 2018 with a time of 3:34.43. Patterson said she did not have the chance to run the hills of the High Country to train for the marathon.
Instead, Patterson used modern technology to help her along.
“I just try to do a set of workouts that were on some hills in my neighborhood,” Patterson said. “We also have a treadmill and I’d get on the treadmill and run uphill pretty steep for four of five miles at a time a couple of days a week.”
Patterson said she never saw much of her competition among the hundreds of runners.
“From the beginning, I was out in front,” she said. “I didn’t know how far of a lead I had, but people were excited for me and helped me get excited about it at the water stops by saying ‘first female.’ They would cheer, so it was kind of fun.”