When Jason Hartmann arrived in Boston last month, he knew that his career might be at stake. Still reeling from a devastating 32nd-place finish in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, after which he lost his sponsor and left his coach, the 31-year-old knew that the journey from Hopkinton to Boston on April 16 would likely be the most important 26.2 miles of his life. He was right, and in a good way: On a day when temperatures reached the upper 80s, Hartmann finished fourth—and first American—in the 116th Boston Marathon. His time of 2:14:31 was far off his personal best of 2:11:06, which he ran to finish eighth in the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, but considering that Wesley Korir’s winning time in Boston was 2:12:40…well, you get the idea. A six-time All-American at the University of Oregon, winner of the 2009 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, and an assistant coach at Niwot High School near Boulder, CO, Hartmann ran a smart race, resisting any urge to join the breakaway that occurred at 17 miles. Before long, he was passing many of those who had been overly ambitious. Hartmann’s fourth-place finish brought him $25,000 and, perhaps of greater value, a reinvigorated spirit. He will run the NYRR 5-Borough Series: Brooklyn Half-Marathon on Saturday.
1) After I had such a bad day at the Trials for no apparent reason, it made me wonder why I was doing this and whether there was a future in it for me. I put everything into that race. It was hard to get over, but I was really determined to turn that negative experience into something positive. So, I turned around and put everything into Boston. Coming down Boylston Street, I thought, “This is so awesome.” If I never accomplish anything else in the sport, I can look back at that moment and be happy with my career.
2) I’m 6’3” and 160 pounds. Yes, that’s a lot bigger than your average pro marathon runner, but this is the body that God gave me and I try to do the best with what I’ve been given. I burn more fuel than the 5’6” guys, but I’m stronger, too, and that might have helped in Boston.
3) Most people know that Dathan Ritzenhein and I competed together in high school back in Rockford, MI, but can you believe that we never won a state championship? We’re still close friends, and he wrote a nice blog item congratulating me on Boston.
4) These days my favorite running partner is my 5½ -year-old Rottweiler, Maximus. I call him my “dog son,” and taught him how to salute and bow. He’s not built for long distances, either, and on a 30-minute run he’s really trying to hang on at the end, but he obviously loves it and so really motivates me.
5) On Saturday in the race, I’ll be wearing a “Team for Kids” singlet, to help call attention to a great NYRR program. No one has ever given me the opportunity to run for a charity before, and I’m excited to represent something that I feel so strongly about: getting kids involved in lifelong fitness activities at an early age within a sports community that can keep them engaged, encouraged, and accountable as they get older.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg