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NPR News

'Marathoner's Marathon' Offers Alternative To Boston

LIANE HANSEN, host:

There are more than 25,000 people registered for tomorrow's Boston Marathon. Everyone from the casual runner - if anyone can casually run 26 miles - to world-class elite racers. This year's slots in the popular Patriot's Day event sold out in a record eight hours. But there's an alternative for those shut out of Boston - a race in Rhode Island with a stricter qualifying time and a reputation as a marathoner's marathon.

Catherine Welch from member station WRNI has more.

CATHERINE WELCH: If you can't run the Gansett Marathon in at least five hours and 30 minutes, then don't even bother lacing up your shoes.

Mr. MIKE TAMMARO (Organizer, Gansett Marathon): We've had people who have run a marathon and they were within seconds of the qualifying and we had to say no.

WELCH: That's organizer Mike Tammaro. He started the race two years ago after he was shut out of the Boston Marathon when all of its slots were filled. Tammaro figured that if he scheduled his race the Saturday before Boston he'd attract other runners left out too. By the way, the qualifying time for this race is five minutes faster than the Boston Marathon.

(Soundbite of people talking)

WELCH: Some of the runners here in the Gansett Marathon's pre-race banquet room are also running Boston - just not Karl Leitz.

Mr. KARL LEITZ: This is my back-up plan. I was one of the people that was sold out of Boston and I was left in the cold.

Unidentified Man: We're down to about three minutes to go before the start.

WELCH: It's cold and windy at the starting line. Many of the runners jump up and down to stay loose. Toward the back of the crowd, Keith Straw is wearing a pink tutu and a t-shirt that says kick asphalt. This is what he runs in, but don't let the costume fool you: his qualifying time is a very serious three hours and 20 minutes. He also carries a wand with a pink star and ribbon. He's using it to gauge the wind.

Mr. KEITH STRAW: The wind is slightly ahead of us right now judging by the little wand, but that means it's going to be with us coming back.

Unidentified Man: OK, runners, are you ready?

(Soundbite of cheering)

WELCH: He and the nearly 200 runners are off on a 26.2 mile course. It takes them down a seaside road, past the lighthouse and eventually they finish at the old post office.

(Soundbite of horn honking)

(Soundbite of cheering)

WELCH: The winner clocked in at two hours and 39 minutes. Nicole Rattay's time was three hours and 12 minutes, finishing third in the women's division.

Ms. NICOLE RATTAY: I didn't think I was going to come in third at all. I just kept thinking run my race, run my race and whatever happens, happens.

WELCH: This was her first Gansett Marathon. She did Boston but it was for the novelty. She says the Gansett is better and will do it again because it's a marathon that's just about the running.

For NPR News, I'm Catherine Welch.

HANSEN: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.