Local Marathon Runners Challenge their Limits
There is a large number of adult men and women running marathons, and the list keeps getting bigger every year.
There are many stories about runners ranging from people who started running in high school to those who didn’t start running until later in life to those who have suffered from injuries and have changed careers while running.
Here are three of their stories.
Scott Willson is in his second career.
He was an air traffic controller with the Air Force and then with the Federal Aviation Administration. He retired in 2012 and celebrated his retirement by flying to San Diego and riding his bike to Jacksonville, Florida, in 28 days.
Scott graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 2005 and set up a practice in cosmetic and age management medicine in 2007 in Overland Park.
He started running at the age of 14 in cross-country and track at Sioux City West in Iowa and ran for the Air Force Cross -Country team.
“Towards the end of my duty, I ran my first marathon in Idaho in 3:12,” he says. “I ran in my first Boston Marathon in 1992. I have run in 25 of the last 26 Boston Marathons.”
In addition to long-distance running, he has run in six Ironman Triathlons, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.22-mile run. He also has run in the Leadville Trail 100-mile run.
“Running has taught me self-discipline and perseverance,” he says. “It makes everything else in life seem so much easier.”
He has a simple training regimen: he runs about 45 miles per week with one rest day. The speed and distance of the run vary each day.
Scott notes that he and his wife, Tracie, run four to six marathons a year.
His advice to older adults is “Get up and move,” he says. “Most of us rust out, not wear out. We are capable of far more than each of us know.”
Bethany Butler Myers
Leawood’s Bethany Butler Myers was the daughter of a Hall of Fame track coach.
Bethany started distance running at the age of 28 in the Houston Half-Marathon.
“This was the first time I had trained for distance running,” she says.
She qualified for the 2013 Boston Marathon, which was the absolute highlight of her running career.
“I remember the extreme excitement of being in the field of professional runners that I saw on TV,” she says. “There was amazing fan support along the entire course. It was more fun and energizing than I could have imagined.”
And then came the finish.
“The turn into the finish was so emotional—it was the most amazing, fun finish experience.”
Then came the terrorist bombing.
“I had completed the marathon but was still in the postrace procession when we heard about the bombing,” she says. “My husband and best friend were in the VIP stadium seating at the finish line (directly across from the first bomb). They had exited their seats before the first blast.”
Bethany has not run much competitively since then.
“I battled injuries during the hard training and did not have time or energy to continue to manage that,” she says. Bethany has found a new love in olympic lifting. “I prefer to workout with a barbell these days and lift heavy stuff.”
Leawood’s Andy Ortbals played football and ran track at Harrisonville High School. He graduated in 1980 but didn’t start distance running until after college.
“I always loved running,” he says. “It is one activity that I can always do even when I don’t want to do anything. One day, my wife and I wanted to try a road race. Typically someone might start with a 5K, but we signed up for the Chicago Marathon, and the rest is history.”
Andy, who now competes in the 55-59 age group, has completed 12 Boston Marathons in a row, run in the Grand Canyon Rim2RIM2Rim, two 50-mile Ultras and two Leadville 100 attempts, missing the cutoff at 60.5 miles both times.
His best marathon finish is 3:19.
What is his training regimen for marathons?
“I have tried just about everything from running three days to seven days a week,” he says. “Now I really don’t follow a training plan.
“All I know is you can’t fake a marathon. You have to put in the miles if you want any good results, and maybe you should be at a race pace or faster.”
Andy and his wife have owned a manufacturing business, Photo-Graphics Co. Inc., for 30 years.
The Leawood resident isn’t into just running.
“My wife and I are really into hiking and backpacking,” he says. “We have hiked and camped in many of the national parks.”
And the couple had three grown children—two of them in graduate school—along with one grandbaby.