Zach McBride has spent the better part of his life running and training others to run. But he had never run a marathon before Saturday.
The University of Mary assistant cross country coach traded the hurdles and water pits of the steeplechase for 26 miles of endurance and coasted to a win in the men’s division of the Bismarck Marathon.
Tara McDonald, meanwhile, felt she needed a workout before the New York Marathon and had an obligation to race organizers to run the local event.
“I’m good friends with all the directors and you feel like a hypocrite when you tell everyone to run and you don’t do it yourself,” McDonald said.
Her last-minute decision to register led to a new women’s course record of 3:12:04, three minutes faster than the previous best.
“This was a training run for the New York Marathon,” McDonald said. “It’s the second time I’ve run this one.”
McDonald’s last marathon in Bismarck was in 2014. She finished second while pregnant.
“This time you took first!” said her son Gavin, who crossed the finish line with her. “Yes. I didn’t have a baby in me this time.”
McDonald said she was a little warm as the race got underway. Two things immediately worked against her, making a record unlikely: she was warm and drank extra fluid and she ran alone in the front from the start. Seventeen miles in, she had to make a bathroom break.
“After that, it felt much better and I just kept going,” she said.
McDonald said the wind was a challenge down the stretch. With a half hour to go, race officials announced a projected time of 3:04. At that pace, she had some room to play with.
“I PR’d today, it was my fastest time. And the wind was tough," McDonald said. "This last stretch was wind in your face the whole way.”
Lindsay Gast was second, 3:46 behind McDonald.
McBride’s winning time of 2:37:20 was nearly four minutes better than runner-up Ben Jacobs and 14 minutes better than former winner Denis Patrick, whom he ran with for half of the men’s race before pulling away.
Unlike McDonald, who had to be helped away from the finish line, McBride stop and started visiting with some of the gathered crowd along the finish line at Cottonwood Park. Training at Adams State in Colorado (7,500 feet) for the past year obviously helped.
“It was a good place to be to give me experience at altitude,” McBride said. “They’ve got quite a dynasty in cross country, in direct competition with Mary. That’s what put Mary on my radar. It took a lot to get me out of the mountains.”
“I moved to Bismarck about a month and a half ago, saw you had a marathon and thought it was time to pull the trigger, whether I was ready or not,” McBride said.
McBride spent the past year coaching and working construction at Adams State in Alamosa, Colo. He recently moved to Bismarck to be a full-time assistant at U-Mary. In college at Miami (Ohio) University, he was a four-time all-conference runner in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 5,000 meters.
The race was run basically in his own backyard. “I just live right around the corner, so these are my regular stomping grounds,” McBride said.
His race showed it. He ran for a while with Patrick until the former winner found himself unable to keep up with McBride’s pace. “We worked together for a little bit, and I was pushing the pace a little bit. He said, ‘go ahead.’”
That happened around the 14- or 15-mile mark, McBride said.
“The last four or five miles, I deteriorated quite a bit,” McBride said. “Being my first marathon, I wasn’t quite prepared for that. I kept trucking along and you can feel the finish line and you can talk yourself into not blowing up, but I definitely wasn’t getting any faster at that point.”
Ismael Arzola won the men’s half marathon in a time of 1:13:00, while April Lund won the women’s race in 1:25:21.
Joe Mahoney’s 35:44 was best in the men’s 10K, and Katie Ostroot’s 43:47 was fastest among women.
In the 5K, Aidan Roo (19:02) and Lisa Phipps (22:06) were winners, as were Randy Billings (41:13) and Kelli Heselden (30:12) in the 5K walk.