On Saturday morning, the famed Boston Marathon will find its way to Parsons.
Wayne Gilmore, a local optometrist who also owns the KLKC radio station, will run the marathon in a virtual fashion after qualifying for this year’s race back in 2018.
The marathon was originally scheduled to be held in Boston on April 20 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced its indefinite postponement and eventual move to a virtual race.
Gilmore found out about the postponement one day after returning from a Parsons boys basketball game at the state tournament in Salina in mid-March.
“The day after I got back from state, it was raining and cold,” Gilmore said. “I was getting ready to run 21 miles. I was mentally ready for that, then I got the message they couldn’t have the marathon in April. I kind of expected it, so I just ran five miles that day.”
Gilmore initially qualified for the Boston Marathon at the California International Marathon in December 2018 with a time of 3:17:49.
Gilmore brought his time down in California a year later with a 3:12:12 showing.
Ever since Gilmore began running marathons in 2005, he’s had the itch to make it to Boston.
“It’s the original marathon in the country and the premier one,” Gilmore said. “This is the marathon to run. I’ve been a running fan since I was in high school. Once I did my first marathon, I started getting the fever.”
Because the pandemic forced this year’s Boston Marathon to be held virtually, runners across the globe mapped out their own courses. For Gilmore, he will start his race by running west to Dennis before turning back and going around Parsons. His race will start and finish in front of his house.
“I didn’t want loops, I wanted to do a true course” Gilmore said. “I originally thought about going to Big Hill, but I didn’t want to put myself through all those hills. I also wanted to avoid any train crossings.”
According to his race map, the course features 575 feet of climb and the same amount of decline.
Gilmore does not expect to post a personal best time on Saturday as his diet and training was more relaxed over the summer.
“A few weeks ago, I got strict again,” Gilmore said. “I’ll be back down to around 175 pounds on Saturday. I don’t have the intense workouts in me to PR. That’s why we’ll pace for about a 3:20 and see what we do.”
While missing out on the opportunity to participate in the marathon in Boston, Saturday’s opportunity will be unique in many ways.
Gilmore will have various friends in the local running community serve as pacers during the marathon. His wife, Tracy, will follow in the couple’s truck while also providing him water every two miles.
“My wife is going to follow us in our truck the whole time,” Gilmore said. “She’ll be my hydration person. She’ll pull ahead, pop out and give me some water. She’s wonderful. She helps me so much with my diet. She makes everything easy.”
Gilmore is already qualified for the 2021 Boston Marathon. Whether that will be held in Boston or not remains to be seen.
But Saturday’s virtual Boston Marathon provides a modicum of comfort and a measure of progress through the pandemic for Gilmore.
“I hope someday I’m lucky enough to go experience everything that I’ve read about and dreamed about,” Gilmore said. “But my daughter wasn’t going to get to go watch me. My other kids wouldn’t have been able to get out of college or work. So it’s neat. It’s important to me that everybody will be there.”