Lou Orazietti’s third Boston Marathon appearance will be a special one for several reasons.
First of all, the 112th edition of the spring classic will likely be the Sault runner’s last.
His last marathon of any kind, in fact.
Orazietti ran Boston for the first time 1981, at the tender age of 41. His very first marathon had been just two years earlier.
In 2004, Orazietti, already long retired from his position as dean of technology at Sault College, took part in the 26.2-mile race for a second time.
Now 70, he figures the best way to cap off his running career is by making one more trip to Massachusetts for next Monday’s race.
“I’m getting to the age where 10-kilometre, half-marathon and shorter runs are probably more suitable,” Orazietti said.
“The training commitments are pretty intense, you know.
“You’re talking three to four months of pretty heavy training. You have some pretty high-mileage weeks, where you’re running 20 miles or more at least once a week. It takes a toll on the hips and the knees.
“I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished. This will be a nice way to cap off 30 years of running and fitness.”
But his final marathon will also be a milestone, so to speak, because he’ll be joined in Boston by an unprecedented number of fellow Saultites.
Eight runners in all, most of them new to the world’s most famous long-distance race, are among the 25,000 or so athletes who have qualified for the event.
Anthony Fiacconi is the only one with a previous appearance under his belt. Misha Coppens, Jennifer Field, Lisa Hutton, Lorne Jarrett and Nathan Mudge are all first-timers.
“Lou is an inspiration to all of us, because of his age and what he’s accomplished.” said Mudge, 30.
“They keep telling me that,” Orazietti said with a laugh. “But actually, I think they inspire me. If there wasn’t so much interest this year, I don’t think I would have trained so hard. I had kind of given up the thought of doing another marathon, but they persuaded me.”
Orazietti qualified for Boston in fall of 2006, at a marathon in Detroit, beating the four-hour, 15-minutes time standard for his age group by about nine minutes.
When he first qualified back in 1983, he had to run the distance in just over three hours.
“That’s the good thing about being old, I guess,” Orazietti said. “They’re a little more liberal with the time standards.”
His 2006 performance qualified him for the following two Boston Marathons, but he didn’t go in 2007.
Mudge, meanwhile, qualified last fall in Milwaukee. In his first-ever marathon, he crossed the line about eight minutes under the three-hour, 10-minute standard for runners 35 and under.
Since then, he’s been balancing work and training, getting up at 5 or 6 a.m. to run in slush, snow and rain.
“It’s been horrible,” Mudge said, chuckling. “It’s been a really tough winter, with lots of snow. We expected clear pavement by mid-March. Every time it warms up a bit, we get dumped on again.”
Pearson, Field and Hutton are his most regular training partners.
“Actually, we’ve been evening up a little this week, getting a chance to rest,” Mudge said. “Training is about half of what it has been.
“It’s a nice little treat, actually.”
Along with several of his fellow competitors, Mudge took part in a clinic run two years ago by Orazietti.
“I think this will be my last trip to Boston, though,” said Mudge, who hopes to break the three-hour mark on April 21. “Training for a spring marathon this far north is pretty tough.
“It will be a nice personal accomplishment. Very few people get to run in it each year. Not everyone gets to do this"