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Stephen Betts ran track and cross-country for one-and-a-half years in high school and then hung up his running shoes. Well, the running shoes are coming down because Betts, a Los Alamos resident, is taking on the mother lode of races, the Boston Marathon.
Two things inspired Betts, a Los Alamos National Laboratory employee and Bishop of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Los Alamos ward, to take part in the marathon.
His high school track coach ran in the Boston Marathon, which gave him the idea to participate. Also, Betts was driven to do the race to teach his kids how to set goals and achieve them.
The Boston Marathon takes place Monday and covers 26.2 miles along the streets of Boston. Betts said 26,300 people will compete in the race. Seventy-two of those racers are from New Mexico and three of them come from Los Alamos. The other two local competitors are Bob Harmon and Art Montoya.
While some may be in it to win it, Betts is motivated to accomplish something else: finish.
As he runs in the marathon, “hopefully it will allow (his children) to recognize you can have hard goals and work hard to achieve them. That’s why I have to finish,” Betts said.
To train for the race, Betts has been out running five days a week. He said he runs 20 miles and then five miles. So far this year, Betts said he has run more than 1,600 miles.
He began training in April 2008. In addition to running, he has also included biking. Participating in the race will have its challenges. Betts said the elevation changes 300-400 feet during the race and he is also dealing with an IT band injury.
To qualify for the Boston Marathon, Betts ran in the American Discovery Trail in Colorado Springs, Colo. The time he needed in order to qualify was three hours, 20 minutes and Betts said he completed the race in under that time.
Although Betts is running this race to inspire his children, they have in turned helped him trained.
His children packed into the car and handed water out of the window as Betts ran when he was thirsty.
Betts also credited his wife, Becca, for her help in getting to the marathon. “My wife has supported in the hundreds of hours that I have been out of the home to train … Becca has ensured that I have been eating properly to have the energy to run,” he said.
“To another extent, there has been very spiritual component as well,” Betts said. “(I) have had a lot of miracles.”
He said God has His hand in all of this over last year.
After getting his injury, Betts said he couldn’t run a lot. In fact, in the last two to three miles of the American Discovery Trail, Betts ran out of energy. But, another runner slowed down and ran with him until the finish line.
“It was a very neat experience,” he said.
When his family watched him finish the race, “they were extremely excited when I crossed the finish line that I met the goal of qualifying.”