A year of pounding the pavement pays off for marathoner

Mike Kirkland finished 16th at the recent Marine Corps Marathon, held in Washington D.C. Submitted photo

Troy Shantz

A Sarnia runner finished 16th out of 18,000 runners at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. last week.

Mike Kirkland’s time of 2:47:18 also qualified him for the New York City Marathon in 2020.

The performance was a personal best and came after a year of devoted training, said Kirkland, 27.

The Northern Collegiate grad ran almost daily this year and averaged about 120 kilometres a week.

“My training has been good and bad… but I decided to really commit to this one because I wanted to qualify for New York,” said the Suncor warehouse worker.

“I put in a lot more volume, a lot more running this year than in years past.”

This was the sixth marathon for Kirkland, who is the grandson of the late Dick Kirkland, long-time mayor of Point Edward. Father Tom Kirkland ran a 10K race at the same event in Washington D.C.

Rain showers drenched competitors at the Oct. 27 competition, said Kirkland, who grew concerned about finishing because organizers will order runners off the course if lightning is spotted.

“When I got to the finish line all my family was soaked to the bone having stood out in the rain watching,” he said.

He has also competed at the Toronto, Detroit, Disney and Paris Marathons. After barely missing his objective of a sub-three hour finish at the Chicago Marathon last year, he determined to push himself hard to the next level.

“I’d like to see how much faster I can get,” he added.

The sheer size of marathon events in which tens of thousands of runners and spectators congregate is one of Kirkland’s favourite aspects of competing, he said.

And nothing feels quite like breaking through the notorious runner’s “wall,” which he usually encounters at the 35-kilometre mark, he said.

“Pushing through that feels pretty great.”