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Long-distance runner preparing for fifth Boston Marathon

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Tara Jeffrey

Rod Fraser just wanted to stay in shape and keep up with his kids, when he started running 25 years ago.

“It was more of a recreational thing for the first few years,” said the 61-year-old Mooretown resident. “I’d do a 5K, four or five times a week… but what I found along the way was, once you start keeping a log and setting goals, that’s how it starts — you get hooked.”

In 2004, he ran his first marathon — the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon — finishing among the top 20%. Then it was on to the next one.

“I’m sure everyone is different, but once I did a couple I was committed, and after a few more you become addicted.”

Since then, Fraser has knocked off an impressive 35 marathons over 14 years (last year was his busiest, with five), including four appearances at the prestigious Boston Marathon, where he’ll be returning next month, along with 30,000 other qualifying participants.

“It’s quite amazing,” Fraser said of what’s considered by many to be the Holy Grail of marathons. The April 16 race begins in Hopkinton, Mass and ends on Boylston Street in downtown Boston. “The whole city embraces it; everyone supports you and treats you like a rock star.”

Though he wasn’t there for the 2013 event when two homemade bombs detonated near the finish line, the tragedy didn’t deter him from returning, Fraser said.

“That’s life, right?” he said. “People still go to Vegas.

“There’s definitely a difference in security but it doesn’t take away from the experience.”

Only about 12% of marathon runners achieve a Boston qualifying time; athletes must meet time standards that correspond to their age and gender. For his age group (60-65) Fraser’s qualifying time is 3:55:00, which he cleared at last year’s Road2Hope Marathon in Hamilton.

He will be joined in Boston by an impressive local contingent that includes: Sarnia’s Mike Master (63), Derrick Ladouceur (46), Brandi Victor (40), Cason King (28), and Lun Kuen Wong (65). Other Lambton residents include Bright’s Grove’s Ken Walker (60), Camlachie’s John Simpson (62), Christine Dougan from Plympton-Wyoming (47) and Patricia Cranston (70) from Lambton Shores.

“You always have to have a goal. I am hoping to get under four hours,” said Fraser, noting last year’s Boston Marathon was his slowest to date, with a time of 4:04:00. “In my first 30 marathons I never went over four hours.

When it comes to preparing, Fraser said he doesn’t do much adjusting to his regular routine.

“I’m not the best trainer,” he said with a laugh. “I just go out and do my miles; do my own thing.”

He runs about 7K seven days a week, rain or shine, taking one day off before a race, and maybe two days to recover. These days, he often runs during his lunch breaks, and saves the longer runs for the weekend. He’s been lucky not to have any serious injuries over the years, and only resorts to the treadmill in extreme weather.

“I always adjust my commitments to get my run in,” he said. “I would be upset at myself if I didn’t get out.”

The best part about running is feeling young, he said, and staying active.

“And meeting other people. It’s such a supportive sport; everyone encourages each other.”

And he’s already hoping his grandkids will catch the bug.

Eight-year-old Stella has registered for the 5K run/walk in the upcoming International Bridge Race in June, alongside her grandpa.

“I was at a race once in Ann Arbor,” he recalled, “And there was a runner at the start line celebrating his 85th birthday, with all his family there, running as a group. So I went to the front to meet him.

“That’s the guy I want to be,” he said. “If I can hang in there.”





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