Monday, April 13, 2015
Michael Dingham To Run In Boston
From the Capital Gazette:
Michael Dingham waited until he was 40 to run his first marathon. Since he's now pushing 50, he figured it was time for another first.
The Davidsonville father of four will be one of the privileged 36,000 runners to compete in the Boston Marathon on April 20. The race is one of the premier running competitions in the world and attention has increased exponentially since the bombings there in 2013.
Entry into the event is a coveted opportunity for many of the nation's most passionate runners. It's one of those rare events where ordinary athletes get to rub elbows with the elite of their sport. It's sort of like being asked to try out your beltway-driving skills in the Daytona 500.
Most runners have to post an age-group qualifying time to gain entry to the race.
Dingham, 49, earned his first trip to the historic 118-year-old race as part of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute team.
The government contract worker will be running to raise funds for cancer research in honor of a former co-worker, Cindy Scott, who is battling cancer for the third time.
His goal is to raise $15,000 and he's already two-thirds of the way to accomplishing that mission.
"Boston is definitely one of the premier marathons,'' said Dingham, who has been running about 50 miles a week in preparation for the 26.2-mile event. "It's a race that has a tremendous amount of culture associated with it and a lot of emotion since the bombings. It will be a great experience to combine that with an inspirational cause to support a good friend.''
Dingham will be running with a friend from New Hampshire, Dick Correa, and plans to make the event a special trip for his wife and four children.
"It's a chance to do something for a good cause and spend some time with family and friends,'' he said.
While he is relatively new to marathon running, Dingham isn't a novice at the sport. He regularly can be spotted cruising the rural roads of Davidsonville four to five times a week. He competed in triathlons and a couple of half marathons before giving the longer distance a try.
"I kind of got suckered into the Marine Corps Marathon,'' said Dingham of the Washington, D.C., event he completed in about 4½ hours 10 years ago.
He's not looking to set any age-group records or keep up with the elite runners in Boston.
"I'm a finisher, not a speedster,'' he said with a chuckle.
The fact that the event will be run in the shadow of the penalty phase of the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for the bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon isn't lost on Dingham.
He spent more than 20 years working with defense contractor Lockheed-Martin and regularly traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa. He has two adopted sons from Liberia and a healthy knowledge of the global dangers of terrorism.
"I've spent a good part of my professional career working with military personnel and first responders,'' he said. "I think I have a good perspective on terrorist threats. This race and the emotions surrounding it bring home the freedoms and luxuries that we have in this country. It's not always safe in other parts of the world and a lot of people don't have an appreciation for the freedoms that we have in this country.''
But when he's out on the course, running the streets of Boston, Dingham isn't likely to be thinking of global terrorism. He'll be engrossed in a sport that most running enthusiasts treasure because of its cathartic ability to clear the mind.
"It's very relaxing to get out of the house, gather your thoughts and just slow down,'' he said of his mindset while on his training runs. "With four kids at home, sometimes I need that.''
He played a little baseball and basketball in high school growing up in southern New Jersey, but didn't discover the joys of open-road running until later in life.
Now he's fully committed to maintaining his fitness level and supporting a good cause.