Local Runner Is Pursuing Champaign Master’s Marathon Record
On Saturday morning, almost 10 thousand people will line up for the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, Half, and Relay. Many just want to finish, others set a personal record, but a few, like Jeff Kelly, have a more competitive goal.
Jeff Kelly wants to set the course record in the Masters division (age 40 and up). The current masters course record is 2 hours, 33 minutes and 20 seconds - for the marathon. It’s held by Estaban Vaneges of Michigan. However, he really wants to beat another local – Harley Johnson’s time of 2 hours 40 minutes and 18 seconds. To beat the masters record Kelly will have to run the 26.2 miles at a 5:50 minute a mile pace.
If Kelly breaks the record he’ll finish within 15 minutes of the overall course record (2:20:34) and way under a Boston Marathon qualifying time – a race he’s already run five times. The Illinois Marathon is considered a good race to use for those qualifying for Boston because it is so flat.
“There is one hill at the country club, but it’s very slight and most people wouldn’t call it a hill. But this course is very fast. If you get a good day with a little wind, and the temperatures look to be real good this Saturday – in the mid-50s. There’s no excuse," said Kelly.
Kelly certainly isn't giving himself any excuses. He runs every day but when I ask him how many miles he logs in an average week he says he doesn’t want to answer. "That’s the question everybody asks and my mission is to change that. Because that doesn’t tell what you’re doing – like if I run 100 miles a week but I run them slow I’m not training well."
What he will say about training? "I think you need to run a lot of mileage, increase your lactate threshold, which is the pace you can sustain for a long time. And then I’m real big on strength training. And I think that helps – to keep strong – cause then you don’t get hurt as much. And then I think you have to run your marathon pace. You hear about guys running a 5:30 pace, well they’re out there running 5:30 for 10 miles. You have to hurt to get the race done."
Regardless of whether or not he takes the record on Saturday, Kelly will continue to enjoy what he considers a vibrant running scene. “I think what’s great about this town is they have a running club and they have so many races. We have great participation from all levels, you know you’re not out there by yourself. You can go to the fun runs, ... my friend and I started a race team, so it’s out there. If you want to join people you can do it."
As a reminder the Illinois Marathon on Saturday morning will lead to significant street closures.