Local runners ready for Boston Marathon

LAKE PLACID – Runners in this year’s edition of the Boston Marathon on Monday will be participating in a more special, more significant race after the event was struck by tragedy in 2013.

They’ll also be in a pack of thousands that’s considerably larger than recent seasons, as the number of entries has expanded from 27,000 to 36,000.

Five runners hailing from the Lake Placid region will be among the competitors in the race, which is one year removed from the Boston Marathon that was marred by terrorist bombings that led to the deaths of three spectators and a police officer and hundreds of injures. In addition to the usual field of runners, those who didn’t finish last year’s 26.2-mile distance have been invited back to participate this year

At age 23, Lake Placid native Heidi Baumbach is the youngest area runner taking part in the race.

The distance standout who competed for the Blue Bombers in high school and went on to standout track and cross country careers at Ithaca College has only competed in one marathon heading into Monday’s race. Baumbach qualified for Boston by winning the first marathon she ever raced in, which was the Empire State Marathon held in Syracuse in October 2012.

“First of all, I’ve definitely tried to visualize the atmosphere on Monday,” said Baumbach, who is attending graduate school at Syracuse University. “There will be thousands of people in the biggest race I’ve ever seen, and I’m pretty excited about that. And I think due to what happened, it’s going to be a more significant year. I’m sure there will be a lot of memorials and more support than ever.”

Baumbach won the 2012 women’s title in the Empire State Marathon with a finish time of 3 hours, 14 minutes, which was 21 minutes faster than the result she needed to qualify for Boston.

“It wasn’t easy, but I knew I had a pretty good shot at qualifying,” Baumbach said. “It was my first marathon and I didn’t know what to expect.”

In 2012, Baumbach completed the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon in 12:25:42.

In Monday’s race, she’ll be joined by a former Ithaca teammate Molly Brown, who hails from Boulder, Colo.

“It will be nice having a close friend in the race who I used to run with,” Baumbach said. “I know we are both in the same start leave, and we might wind up running together. We still have to talk strategy.”

When it comes to actually running the race, Baumbach says staying steady should be a key.

“Over such a long distance, I just want to do a consistent pace,” she said. “I don’t think I should have any problems, but it’s been so long since my other marathon, I really don’t know what to expect. I guess anything can happen.”

Jan Wellford, an accomplished 32-year-old trail runner from Keene, will be participating in his third marathon Monday when he leaves the starting line in Hopkinton, Mass. He qualified with a 2:54:39 finish time in the 2012 Green Mountain Marathon that’s held each fall in Vermont. He then turned in a faster qualifying result with a 2:49:49 finish in the Hudson-Mohawk Marathon.

Wellford said he’s looking to finish in about 2:55, but added that all he needs to do is cross the line in under 3:O5 to qualify for another chance to run in the Boston Marathon.

“Mostly, I’m feeling excited and honored to be running Boston for the first time,” said Wellford, who is a native of the Boston area. “It’s a race I grew up watching but never thought I would run. Now I’m hoping it can be a yearly tradition.

“I’m sure the energy in Boston is going to be electric, and expect that finishing will be a very emotional experience for me and for many other runners,” Wellford added. “I won’t try to set a personal best, but I do hope to try to qualify for Boston again so I can return next year. Mostly, I’m running for the experience.”

Three more runners from Lake Placid are also entered to run Monday. They are 46-year-old Darci Lafave, 45-year-old Rachel Stanton and Billy Whitney, who is 52.