Had it not been for the wind, Matt Iten's victory in Saturday's Last Train to Boston Marathon would have been a breeze compared with his attempts to qualify for Boston.
"I think it took me six or seven times to make it," Iten said about the 3-hour, 10-minute finish needed to gain entry in the annual Patriot's Day race in Hopkinton, Mass. "It had gotten to be a psychological thing. I finally did it at Erie three years ago. All the elements were against me. It rained about three inches, but I finally made it."
By contrast, it took only four runs in the Renaissance AllSports Athletic Club's annual four-loop trek around the Edgewood area of Aberdeen Proving Ground to get into the winner's circle.
"I've run it three or four times before," Iten said about the Last Train to Boston, which has been held 16 times. "Initially, I ran it to qualify for Boston. The first time, I think I missed [qualifying] by 14 seconds."
As they are wont to do in March, the winds kicked up in Saturday's race, gusting to 20 mph and partially accounting for the relatively slow winning time of 2:56:09.
It was well off Larry Torella's 1982 course record of 2:25:44.
"I was 10th after the first loop and then seventh and then third," said Iten, a real-estate broker in Warrenton, Va. "I think the wind beat them [the leaders] up. That's what it looked like to me."
Iten finished a half-minute ahead of Dennis Harrison, a first-time marathoner.
"I picked him [Harrison] up at about 22 [miles]," said Iten, who has run 20 marathons, "and ran with him to about 24."
But for the finish at Hoyle Gymnasium, Iten was by himself for his first marathon victory.
"I got about 12th or 13th in New Orleans a month ago," said Iten, 35. "That's the closest I've been [to winning]. I've done five [marathons] in the last six months. This is my last one for a while."
Or at least until Boston.