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.