Celebrating its 115th running on Monday, April 18, the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and one of the world’s most famous athletic events. According to the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), which organizes the marathon, “in terms of on-site media coverage, the Boston Marathon ranks behind only the Super Bowl as the largest single day sporting event in the world.” Known for its tough qualifying standards and distinguished history, the Boston Marathon attracts some of the most recognized names in running.
While many runners dream of completing a marathon, still more dream of running the Boston Marathon. Narragansett resident Glen Guillemette once counted himself among those who wished to be a part of world-famous race. “I had the desire from a very young age to someday run the Boston Marathon,” says the 51-year-old.
Guillemette, the president of Guill Tool, an engineering and manufacturing firm specializing in extrusion dies for the plastics industry, has made good on that desire many times over. This Monday will mark his 16th Boston Marathon.
If you have kept up with the Rhode Island running community over the past three decades, chances are Glen Guillemette is no stranger to you. A former winner of the Ocean State, Bay State and Clarence DeMar marathons, Guillemette has also been the top finisher in three Blessing of the Fleet road races.
Guillemette started running in 1980 at age 20, when he discovered its stress-relieving benefits: “I was living in a two-room apartment and working 55 hours a week. I needed some form of exercise and at 5'7” and 142 pounds I was getting my butt kicked in the Providence flag football league.”
Three years later, Guillemette ran his first Boston Marathon, finishing in 66th place with a time of 2:31:52. Over the next several years, as he revisited Boston again and again, he would continue to turn in performances that secured his place as a first-class runner.
Indeed, having the ability to develop and advance as an athlete is one of the reasons Guillemette kept running over the years. “I was totally addicted to the competition and the desire to see just how much I could improve,” he says.
Guillemette highest ranking performance at the Boston Marathon came in 1999, when at age 41 he posted a time of 2:25:18, finishing 29th in a field of over 12,000 runners. At the 2010 Boston Marathon he was the first Senior (aged 50+) finisher and 163rd overall, with a time of 2:37:30.
It was not necessary for Guillemette to qualify for the Boston Marathon this year; the BAA invited him back to participate due to the fact that he won his division last year. But he still qualified on his own, by nearly an hour, at the 2010 ING Hartford Marathon last October, finishing in 10th place overall with a time of 2:39:14.
This winter’s weather proved to be particularly challenging for any New Englander preparing for a spring marathon. Guillemette notes that having to opt for the treadmill a few times over outdoor training affected the quality and intensity of his runs.
Still, despite his less-than-ideal training this year, if he is feeling up to it come race day, Guillemette would like to finish in the sub-2:40 range.
More than thirty years into his running career, Guillemette continues to churn out performances that would be impressive for runners half his age. He credits his wife of 31 years, Cheryl, with supporting and tolerating his “running obsession, knowing that it provides great stress release and social benefits.”
Though he says his days of setting personal records have since passed, Guillemette keeps running “for the stress release, the great people you meet, seeing others improve, getting in touch with the outdoors and the sheer love of the sport.”
Speaking of marathons, today is the day of the Narragansett marathon. You can find more info about that one here.