1 CAD Member Completes Boston Marathon Bucket List Item
By Martin Zeilig
Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Travis, who works for A4 Maintenance, 1 Canadian Air Division, did not let the cheering and shouting young women of Wellesley College distract him during his participation in the 2019 Boston Marathon on April 15.
This was only his second time ever running a marathon.
LCol Travis said he qualified for the famed race by beating the qualifying time of 3:25 hours at the 2018 Fredericton, NB, Marathon. He ran that race in 3:11 hours.
The Boston Marathon was first run in April 1897, having been inspired by the revival of the marathon for the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. The marathon has been held every year since then, even during the war years, making it the world’s oldest annual marathon.
An estimated 30,000 runners competed in the 123rd Boston Marathon. At about the 24 kilometre point, runners pass through the town of Wellesley in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, where the private women’s liberal arts college is located.
“The young women from the college line up along the roadside,” said LCol Travis during an interview in May. “They’re screaming. The noise is almost palpable. You can hear it from almost a kilometre away. They’re holding up signs that say ‘Kiss me for luck. Free hugs.’”
A friend had earlier told him that if he was “running for time” to stick to the centre of the road so as not to be distracted.
“I was careful and moved off to the middle of the road,” LCol Travis confirmed.
He’s a relative newcomer to the sport of marathon running having competed in Triathlon for the past few years.
In 2018, LCol Travis was named the Canadian Armed Forces Male Athlete of the Year and commended for balancing his military duties, family commitments, and his own triathlon training and managing the CAF CISM triathlon team. It was noted that during the 2017 season, he finished 1st in his age group and 10th overall at the Ironman 70.3 Superfrog Triathlon in California; 7th in his age group at the Penticton ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships; and in the top ten in his age group at the Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant Triathlon.
“It was my first time running in Boston,” LCol Travis, who’s married with an 11 year old son, said. “It was only my second marathon if you don’t count an Ironman distance triathlon run.”
He ran Boston n a personal best time of three hours five minutes and 28 seconds.
He first got into running because a former girlfriend asked him to walk her dog every day in 1998.
“It took a long time because we walked for five kilometres,” LCol Travis said. “But, I realized if we jogged the distance it would only take us 25 minutes. So, I’d take this dog out and run. I hated it for the first two weeks because everything was sore, and I’d be out of breath. After doing this for a couple of weeks, I started to feel healthier and my energy levels were coming up. I felt more like a deer running through the woods in British Columbia.”
“I’ve done a lot of competitive races but mostly in triathlon,” LCol Travis said. “I realized I was a pretty good runner, moderately fast.”
“It was little over a year ago that I ran my first marathon, the Fredericton Marathon. I trained hard for it.”
He admits that he got more than he bargained for in the race.
“At the time, I thought I was ready for the marathon but, it kicked my butt,” LCol Travis said. “I was having cramping issues for the last few kilometres. I didn’t have the right nutrition. I didn’t have enough energy.”
He committed himself to be better prepared and have a better nutrition plan for the next race.
“When I ran Boston this year that was at the forefront of my mind,” LCol Travis said. “Boston was one of those bucket list items. It is the marathon to run. That’s the reputation it has. But, I wasn’t really sure why it had that reputation until I went there. You have to qualify for Boston within the previous 12 months. So, you have to run another registered marathon somewhere in the world that is a qualifying time.”
Although he was the only military participant from Winnipeg, there were other CAF personnel from other bases competing in Boston, he added.
“I took a direct flight on West Jet there and back,” LCol Travis said. “I rented a car. I stayed with relatives just north of Boston. I went a few day early just to look at the course, and do the race registration and pick up a race packet.”
He even purchased a Boston Marathon jacket as a keepsake.
“It’s amazing the energy level the day of the race,” LCol Travis said. “There are 30,000 runners on the race. All their families and friends and the locals who are there to cheer them on. It all just means that the energy and excitement is very high.”
“I’ve never seen a marathon where both sides of the road are full of people cheering and screaming. There are musical bands and people dressed up in costumes. There was one guy dressed up as the devil and he had a pitchfork. One guy was dressed up as a Sasquatch, and someone else as Santa Claus.”
“When I returned, Major-General Drouin at Air Div HQ, my boss Colonel Wedgewood, and my co-workers were supportive. They had big smiles and congratulations were sent to me on Facebook even before I returned to Winnipeg.”
He notes that whether you’re doing an Ironman or running a marathon the race is 80 percent physical, with the other 20 percent being mental.
“You’re going to hit a wall and want to quit,” LCol Travis explained. “But, it’s that other 20 percent that is going to allow you to finish and finish well.”
LCol Travis also recently took the top military time in the recent RCAF Run Half Marathon.
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