The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Jaryd Cline
Sports Editor 

Balcom goes big in Boston Marathon

 

April 26, 2017

Jenny Balcom

BALCOM STRONG: Goldendale's Jenny Balcom poses with her medal after finishing the Boston Marathon on April 17.

You might find it strange how Goldendale runner and Boston Marathon veteran Jenny Balcom got started as a runner, and you're not the only one.

Balcom herself calls her passion for distance running crazy as well, but it has helped fuel her to complete the Boston Marathon three times while cutting nearly seven minutes off her time from 2016.

"The crazy, funny thing is, I guess I'm a go big or go home kind of girl because my first race was actually 26.2 miles," Balcom said. "I just said 'I'm going to go for it.' Told a few people and started training.

hen I've been hooked," she added.

Fresh off completing her third straight Boston Marathon in a person best time of 3 hours, 25 minutes and 50 seconds on April 17 and finishing 5,945thamong 26,411 runners, Balcom said she has her sights set on running the five other 26.2 mile races that Abbott World Marathon Majors consists of.

The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. The races take place in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City.

Although Balcom admitted that competing in and completing those races could be years down the road, the goal is certainly within reach for the 37-year-old running enthusiast.

She certainly has the durability and endurance to outlast the majority of the field in any distance race (as evident by her top 10 percent finish (1,041) among this year's field of 11,973 female participants) as well as many of the younger runners, and her daily training routine is proof that she means business in competitive long distance races.

For almost the past four years, 1,435 days to be exact, Balcom hasn't missed a day of training where she runs any number distances depending on what she's specifically training for. She said she shoots for anywhere from 200-250 miles per month, but joked that the pressure is now off after running last Monday's Boston Marathon, New England's most popular sporting event.

The crowd in Boston was electrifying, Balcom said. Think a Seattle Seahawks home football game, but with nearly 10 times more people. According to wallethub.com, there's roughly half a million spectators at each Boston Marathon lined up from start to finish cheering on the runners.

"The roar of the crowd just goes right through you," Balcom said. "I mean you can feel it in your bones."

"It's great. It's really amazing," she added of the crowd. "There's little kids out there. You're high-fiving people. You feed off of the crowd. The spectators, the volunteers, they really make that race. It's wonderful."

The marathon field itself is no small number either.

"There's almost 30,000 runners, which is obviously bigger than the town we're from," Balcom said.

Almost 10 times bigger than Goldendale's population. She still remembers her first year in Boston in 2015.

"I tell people 'Man, first year I was actually almost scared because there were so many people and the crowd was so wild and I'm from such a small town ... you're just kind of starstruck in a sense."

Where it all started

She recalled running her first marathon in 2013 in 4 hours and 9 minutes and immediately thinking she could do better.

To qualify for the Boston Marathon, runners need to meet a specific time based on their gender and age at a specific qualifier race. For Balcom in 2013, it would've been 3 hours and 35 minutes.

A little while later and after a lot more training, she finished the Columbia Gorge Marathon in October 2013 with a much better result that her first marathon time.

"I came in right at the qualifying time so that just kind of sparked it," Balcom said.

However, the Gorge Marathon wasn't a qualifying race for Boston, so she ran the TedDriven Marathon on April 19, 2014 in Wenatchee and finished fourth among all females in 3:24.16, easily topping the 3 hour, 35 minute qualifying time.

That's when she became hooked on running long distances and she hasn't really slowed up, competing in multiple races each year along with the Boston Marathon from 2015-17.

Jenny Balcom

CRUISIN' THROUGH BOSTON: Jenny Balcom continues the Boston Marathon near Fenway Park with Boston's famous Citgo sign in the background.

Later this year, she's excited for the Providence Hood to Coast Relay run on Aug. 25 and 26. Balcom and a team of 11 other partners start at the Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood and each run a leg of the 199 mile long course until finishing in Seaside, Oregon.

Golden support

Balcom also said the community support in Goldendale had been huge

Her boss at Sentry, Bruce Holcomb, has been a big time supporter and has picked up Balcom's entry fee the past few years while Dr. Dennis Carver at the Goldendale Chiropractic Clinic has helped with massages.

"It's just the overall support from the little town," Balcom said. "It's really nice for people to be excited about what I consider my silly, crazy running dream."

 

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