Sunday, October 13,2013
Moments after crossing the finish line of the Prairie Fire Marathon, Salina's Michael Fontez stood smiling, holding a sign. Written on it in black pen was a message conveying the long-time goal he had just accomplished.
"It's my first full marathon!" Fontez said. "I turned 50 and wanted to do it. I set my mind to it. I came out here a year ago and ran the half (marathon) and had so much fun doing it, I decided to train for and run my first 'full' this year."
That hard work paid off. Fontez finished in three hours and 31 minutes.
"I said I'm going to keep with it, have fun, mentally stay positive, and just enjoy myself," Fontez said. "It's exhilarating but I hurt all over!"
More than 3,600 runners like Fontez completed the Prairie Fire half- or full-marathon Sunday. The runners represented 42 states and more than 500 U.S. communities.
All of them came with a goal and a motivation.
For Nick Bright and his friend, both students at Kansas State University, they were looking to take their running to another level.
"Neither of us have ever done a marathon and it's kind of a bucket list thing to do," Bright said.
Finishing not long after was Kansas City's Kathy Slover who had slightly different goals and motivation given it this was her 18th marathon. She's now run a marathon in 10 different states.
"I'm working on (all) 50 states," Slover said.
Organizers accomplished a goal of their own: putting on another successful event in Prairie Fire's fourth year.
"What's really rewarding is to see these people come and enjoy it and they are such appreciate people," Race Director Bob Hanson said.
But with this year's goals accomplished, organizers and runners already have their sights set on reaching the next finish line.
"I want to run another (marathon)!," Fontez said. "I'll be back next year!"