One Fall, Two Marathons, Mother Nature Failing to Cooperate, and a Ticket to Boston Punched for Tom Elliott


Most marathon runners spend months training for an event with the goal of running their best time, but realize constantly that if mother nature throws them a curve ball and they get bad weather, that hard work can be for naught (ask anyone who ran the Chicago Marathon in 2007). People who entered this year's Chicago Marathon probably assumed that the race, which has traditionally been known as a PR course because of favorable weather, could not possibly have unseasonably hot weather two years in a row. Tom Elliott was among the tens of thousands who ground out 26.2 miles in 80 degree humid weather. His time of 3:19 bettered what he ran in his first marathon by eight minutes, but came up well short of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

Everything had gone right in his training - he stayed healthy, ran a very solid 1:26 half marathon (which indicated he was in shape to run close to 3:00), and got all his mileage done as planned. But his result did not reflect his fitness, and he approached his coach, Lowell Ladd, about running another marathon that fall to vindicate himself. Ladd, who almost always urges his athletes to stick to two marathons per year, recognized that Elliott would bounce back quickly from Chicago because the weather did not allow him to push his legs 100% and would have a realistic shot at a sub 3:10 in ideal weather.

With the Philadelphia Marathon being six weeks after Chicago, there was time to recover for two weeks, train hard for two and a half weeks, and then taper back down again and hope that the weather would be more conducive to fast times. Everything went according to plan during that mini training cycle, and both Ladd and Elliott felt good about the chances of a good race.

The weather turned out to be the opposite of Chicago, with starting temperatures in the 20s. Although this was colder than most prefer, it gave Elliott a much better chance than a hot day and he took full advantage of that. After running right on 3:10 pace for 20 miles, he was able to pick up the pace for the last 10K and finish in a new personal best time of 3:08:58. Said Elliott afterwards, "The mix of rest, recovery and training that you provided during that short time between Chicago and Phila made it possible for me to accomplish my goal."

"Congratulations Tom and good luck in Boston this spring!"