America’s fastest runner from Boulder in 125th Boston Marathon – Longmont Times-Call

Nell Rojas’ pre-race strategy for the 125th Boston Marathon race on Monday was to run like she always does – from behind.

That strategy, however, failed when she found herself leading one of the race’s iconic races ahead of two-time world champion and Longmont resident Edna Kiplagat and some of the world’s other top marathoners.

What was Rojas thinking, a Boulder native who has made steady progress since running cross country and playing basketball for Boulder High School?

Edna Kiplagat, originally from Kenya, who lives in Longmont, crosses the finish line for second place in the 125th Boston Marathon on Monday. (Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

“It was a really strange feeling. I would have predicted that I would have won the Boston Marathon before predicting that I would lead the Boston Marathon, ”she said in a phone interview from New York, where she relaxed after finishing. sixth in Boston in 2:27:12 ”. She was the best American, 2:37 behind winner Diana Kipyokei, with 2017 Boston champion Kiplagat, 42, second in 2:25:09.

“I was like, ‘Wow, what am I doing here?’” Rojas said. “Is this really happening? “

That’s because Boston isn’t just another big city marathon. It is perhaps the most prestigious marathon in the world, having started in 1897, the year after the inaugural Olympic marathon. Lots of grown-ups raced there and won.

Rojas, 33, grew up knowing the Boston tradition. She is “a favorite girl” among Boulder runners, well integrated into the local community and is comfortable with runners of all skill levels, a skill honed by her years of training with RISE and Rojas Athletics.

Boulder “has been crucial in all of my races,” Rojas said, “just to feel very supported here. I basically have the whole town behind me, and all the messages I have received, wishing me good luck.

“People really believe in me, and that’s important.”

One of Rojas’s great believers is Ric Rojas, his father and trainer and former elite runner. He wasn’t surprised to see his daughter up front because, he explained, “based on her training and recent races I knew she could run well.”

Boston was the Rojas’ fourth marathon, and since her debut, a 2:31 effort at Cal International in 2018, she has felt like an elite runner. But it wasn’t until this year’s buildup for Boston – initially held every April but moved to the fall due to COVID restrictions – that she instilled a feeling that she belonged to the best.

“It started with (September 12) Cherry Blossom (Ten Mile), winning the national championship and beating the top girls,” Rojas said. “The workouts were faster and I could see the improvement. I thought, “I can run with these girls.”

His father’s training philosophy underpins the training, Rojas said. “Dad is cool, very, very relaxed. The workouts are all about effort. It is very long term, rather than (focusing) on ​​a specific workout. It looks at longevity and consistency.

Others could see improvement as well, including Kara Goucher, two-time Olympian and NBC commentator.

“I watched her build herself and knew she just needed to be in a bigger race for her abilities to stand out,” Goucher said in an email. “Actually, I was the one who told NBC we had to talk to her before the race because I was so sure she would do well.”

There are many more races to come for the Rojas. She has been invited to the world half marathon championships, but is not sure if she will attend. Looking ahead, he’s intrigued by one race: the 2022 Boston Marathon. Rojas was surprised at the number of hills on the venerable course and said, “We can tweak my training a bit; I know exactly what to do now.

It’s the kind of knowledge that comes with the experience of running Boston, said Goucher, who added, “I’m super excited to see what (Nell) will do next. Not only is she a great athlete, but she’s also a great personality. Exactly what our sport needs.

Bates second in Chicago

Emma Bates, coached by former University of Colorado All American Joe Bosshard, placed second in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 10, finishing in 2:24:20. Other local runners Carrie Verdon, a former CU cross country and track and field athlete, finished seventh in her marathon debut (2:31:51) with Lindsay Flanagan 110th (2:33:20).

Follow Michael Sandrock on Instagram: @MikeSandrock.

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