Brent Wathke was upbeat after finishing his third Boston Marathon on Monday, completing the race in 2 hours, 54 minutes, 58 seconds.
“It was more humid than I anticipated,” Wathke said. “Anytime you come out here for the race, it’s always fun. It’s the best of the best, and the whole town comes out. You are surrounded by people the whole way. And it’s not an easy course to run.”
Wathke, 36, of Eau Claire, is among two dozen runners from across western Wisconsin who competed in the race. But preparing for a spring marathon is always a challenge, and that was compounded this year by the extreme cold temperatures in January and the heavy snowfall in February.
“I did multiple 20-milers on the treadmill,” Wathke said.
There also were days he was waking up before 4 a.m. to get in some miles on the track at the Eau Claire YMCA.
“It was my only option to get in some speed work,” he said.
Wathke said all the hard work and training is worth it at the finish line.
“Anytime you complete a marathon, getting out there, it’s just an incredible thing,” he said. “Any day you can run a marathon is a good day.”
Boston residents treat the finishers like royalty, he added.
“Complete strangers open the door for you, and congratulate you,” Wathke said. “It’s a sense of respect.”
Wathke previously ran the race in 2015 and 2017.
Kevin Larson, 40, of Altoona said it was a challenging day because he wasn’t ready for the humidity.
“It was fun, but it was brutal,” Larson said. “It was 60 degrees in the morning. It had poured in the morning, but it let up an hour before we started. And then it got muggy.”
Larson was hoping to finish at three hours, but he came in at 3:22.
“I just kind of fell off slowly,” he said. “I walked a lot, in short distances, the last six miles. I was starting to cramp up. I was surprised at how many people were walking. But people trained in cold climates.”
The wind was at their back, but Larson said it would have helped to have a bit in their faces to cool them off.
Larson has recovered from testicular cancer in 2017.
“It was pretty emotional at the end, with the health issues I had,” Larson said. “So, it was big to cross the finish line.”
Like Wathke, Larson said it is just an amazing race to be part of.
“The whole city is out here, cheering for you,” Larson said. “It’s just a blast. The experience is amazing.”
Randy Aumann, 53, of Loyal ran alongside Kristin Mikula, 47, of Chippewa Falls, finishing together at 4:10:01. This marked Aumann’s fifth Boston Marathon, and 44th overall.
While Larson and Wathke said they struggled with the temperatures, Aumann said it suddenly got cold on them, with the sun vanishing behind the clouds and a light rain falling on them their last few miles.
However, Aumann said it was still much better than last year, when he ran in hard rain, sleet and snow.
“This is the warmest temperature we’ve run in this year,” Aumann said. “I enjoyed it, and it was fun.”