Ohio runner wins No. 20 at Silver State Marathon
To a baseball pitcher, reaching the 20-win plateau in any given season is always reason to celebrate. On Sunday, Chuck Engle became a 20-marathon winner in 2006 by running his way to a gold medal at the 30th annual Silver State Marathon in Washoe Valley.
But for the 35-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, there was no need to celebrate the victory. After all, it was his 35th marathon so far this year, and he was simply happy to be at Bowers Mansion Regional Park.
“I’m running a marathon every weekend and I’ve been blessed,” said Engle, who bills himself as “Marathon Junkie” on his Web site, chuckengle.com. “God has been good to me. I’ve been focused and I’ve been able to run well consistently.”
Engle led virtually all the way through the 26.2-mile loop through Washoe Valley and finished in a time of 2 hours, 44 minutes and 52 seconds under weather conditions that were ideal for August.
He was chased to the finish by long-time running friend Bryan Smith, 44, of Thibodaux, La., who finished second in 2:48:21.
“He pretty much pulled away from the start,” Smith said of Engle’s race. “I was back there, and he knew it. He knows I finish strong, so that motivated and pushed him.”
The first woman to finish was Megan Curtis of Highland, Calif., in 3:49:09, and Perry Pownall of San Francisco was second in 3:52:48.
The lineup of events for the Silver State Marathon included a 10-kilometer road race in which Truckee’s August Brautigam finished third overall in a time of 36:46 ” just 45 seconds behind the winner, Ryan Ress of Reno.
Engle’s winning time was the fastest at Silver State since Nick Bingham ran 2:42:44 in 1997.
“To run this fast at altitude, I’m tickled,” he said. “This is the best time I’ve ever run above 5,000 feet, so I’ll take it.”
Smith, who has run 11 marathons already this year, was pleased with his performance on Sunday. It was especially impressive considering he was limited to a liquid diet after breaking his jaw in a mountain bicycle accident the first week of July.
“This was a real test today,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what I would do. After the accident, I was limited what I could do because my jaw was wired shut. I was still wired shut two weeks ago when I ran a three-mile race in a swamp through the spillway ” and I still beat three of the four runners from LSU who were there.”
Smith has experienced a test of survival since Hurricane Katrina ravaged his hometown New Orleans last September.
“I was at the 17th Street Canal break … You could see that from my apartment,” said Smith, adding that he now lives with his parents in Thibodaux. “It’s been tough coming back for a lot of us. We’re all going through a lot of adjustments. My lifestyle has changed, it’s been the same for anyone who runs down there. We’ve all had more important issues to deal with than just races.”
The scenery of the Silver State course certainly caught his attention.
“It’s a beautiful course,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen so much wildlife during a marathon. I saw a bobcat chasing a jackrabbit, a coyote, deer, Canadian geese, cattle, dead snakes. I even saw bear scat.”
Obviously, the runners were relieved they didn’t actually see any bears.
“At that point, you start thinking, “Am I running fast enough?,” Engle said.
Smith was quick to make one point to his friend. “I wasn’t worried about being fast. I just had to be faster than you,” he said with a laugh.