For lifetime Green Bay Packer fan Mark Woltz, the run through the football stadium made the entire 26.2 miles of the Green Bay Marathon all worthwhile. But there's more to his sense of accomplishment than his race through a Packer fan's "holy ground."
"I just wanted to finish, not to beat any records. To me, it's a personal achievement. With a marathon, it's a total commitment," says Woltz, a Supply Management supervisor in indirect materials at John Deere Power Systems in Waterloo.
The May 20 race started with 2,900 entrants, five of which were Mark and his four friends. Mark was the only one in his group who had run a marathon before (in Napa Valley, six years ago.) He signed up for Green Bay "just to give them inspiration and so I could train and have a goal."
To get himself in shape, the now 50-year-old resident of Waverly, Iowa, used a 20-year-old guide authored by a University of Northern Iowa professor. Written for non-runners who want to marathon, the book helped him "establish a routine of eating right, staying physically in shape and just taking care of my physical well-being."
His training reaped benefits in other ways, too. "Just by mentioning what you're doing to your coworkers, it drives you to complete that goal. It helps the camaraderie in your work group," says Mark, noting that it drives his work performance in other ways. "When I feel good, my mental well being comes around, too. I can think better, focus better, and be more efficient."
Choosing to run the May marathon nudged him to start training in late January. And while Iowa winters can pose a challenge for runners, he says it was good training for a Green Bay "spring." With temperatures of 65 degrees the day before the marathon, "We thought 'this is great.' The next morning we woke up to 32 degrees and a wind-chill of 25," recalls Mark. Did we mention that the marathon was in late May?
He also biked three days of RAGBRAI this past summer, and is strapping on his running shoes again for the Park-to-Park 10K race in Cedar Falls this September. Is six miles a walk in the park after doing a marathon? "It does feel easier," he laughs. "I'm more competitive. I run faster, so I finish in under an hour. In a marathon, my goal is just to finish the race and not be totally exhausted."