Close to 27,000 runners, joggers, walkers and wheelchair racers gathered for the 115th Boston Marathon ran April 18. One of the 27,000 people adding some local flavor was Broken Bow resident Todd Vleiger.
Vleiger is often asked why he runs. His answer is short and simple: “I just love to run.”
Running is something that’s been a part of the Vleiger family for as long as he can remember.
“I started running because my dad and brother were running, “said Vleiger. “ As long as I can remember, my dad and brother ran and I enjoyed it as much as they did. It was something we could do together.”
Because of his love of running, the Mitchell, S.D. native accepted a scholarship to run track and cross country at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D. which currently competes at the Division I level.
He competed as a Jackrabbit for four years and he earned various accolades including being named to the Summit League’s All-Academic team and in the process earning two varsity letters. Even though his college career was over that didn’t mean he was going to stop running.
Shortly after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and agronomy he moved to Broken Bow and accepted a job at Arrow Seed. Just like any other former intercollegiate athlete Vleiger wanted to continue participating in the sport he’s grown to love. This is when the streets of Broken Bow and the surrounding area became Vleiger’s personal playground.
“On average I run between 60 and 80 miles a week,” Vleiger said. “The only time it was hard for me to run was in the winter, but I just had to tough it out. I’ve always looked at challenging myself and pursuing new goals in life and I thought running in an event that’s prestigious like the Boston Marathon would be cool.”
One just can’t decide they’re going to run the Boston Marathon. In order to qualify for the Boston Marathon a prospective participant must compete in at least one prior marathon and finish the race under three hours. Last spring he competed in the Omaha Marathon finishing with a time of two hours and forty-five minutes, qualifying for the Boston Marathon with 15 minutes to spare.
“The Omaha Marathon was just to test me. I knew I could always finish a marathon under three hours, but just to do it was a sense of relief because then I knew I could do it,” he said.
After he qualified for the Boston Marathon he started to push himself harder in training.
“I started to seriously train for the marathon about 16 weeks beforehand. I ran a total of four 20 milers and aggressively trained, “Vleiger said. “ I did learn that it takes at least two, maybe three different pairs of shoes to train. “
In the week leading up to the marathon he eased his training and felt prepared to run.
“I was comfortable where I was at. The last one to two weeks of training is more about not tiring yourself out. It’s important to be healthy and energized because a marathon takes a heavy toll on your body,” he said.
“But I was ready!”
As the race started, Vleiger felt comfortable. His pace was just where he wanted it. The hardest part of the race was around the 15 to 18 mile mark because he started to have cramps but that’s going to “happen to almost every runner.” He crossed the finish line at two hours and fifty minutes, five minutes off his goal, but he was pleased with his time.
“Even though I didn’t make my goal I knew I gave it everything I had. There are different variables that can change the outcome of the race and I think the most significant one was the unfamiliarity of the course,” Vleiger said.
Even though he was there to race, he thought it was great to run through the different towns and points of interest along the route and the atmosphere was electric.
“Running by Fenway Park was probably the highlight of the course. It was just really cool to see that,” he said. “I just felt so lucky to experience the atmosphere, it was surreal.”
Vleiger does plan to partake in a marathon again in the future, but he’s going to take the rest of the year off before he starts to think about running the 26.2 miles again.
“The process of training and participating in a marathon can zap some of your energy. But I love to run and I will run in a marathon again.”