BACK IN THE RUNNING | Four years after returning to competitive running, Fountain City’s Bryan Madsen to run in Boston Marathon on Monday
Bryan Madsen ran his first marathon in 1992 at the age of 19. He ran a few more, but then his life started to speed up.
He found a career, married, and started a family. He put running on the backburner for around 20 years, until his wife signed him up for a 5K about four years ago. Now the 46 year-old Fountain City native is preparing for the Boston Marathon this Monday.
Madsen admits running marathons wasn’t the original plan, wanting instead just to get back to running for fun, but after that first race he knew he had to get back to running competitively.
“My early 40’s I just wanted to work my way back into running shape,” Madsen said. “I didn’t really have any desire to compete or anything, my wife randomly signed me up for a 5K and that kind of got the juices flowing.”
With help from his youngest son, Hale — who became Madsen’s training partner and is getting ready to run the Grandad Half Marathon in a few weeks — Madsen soon worked his way up from 5Ks, to half marathons, to full marathons.
But for Madsen, it’s always been about the journey, the training that accompanies the race.
“The thing is, the running part is secondary to how it makes you feel,” Madsen said. “Gratifying isn’t the word, but humbling more than anything else. The commitment to running has made me better at my job, made me a better parent, made better everything because of the amount of focus, commitment, and grit it takes knowing you have a 20 mile training run in the middle of February when the weather sucks.”
“When you can will yourself to do that a lot of other things come a lot easier to you. The running is secondary with the results are the backend of the other things that come with it. The journey is more fun. Boston will be great but the memories are made during that journey.”
The journey has brought Madsen all over the country going to races ranging from the mountains of Utah to the sandy shores of Florida. Yet, for Madsen it came full circle when he participated in the New York City Marathon this past November. A race that is considered the largest sporting event in the world featuring over 50,000 runners and more than a million spectators. In the middle of it all, stood Madsen who just four years earlier wasn’t even running marathons.
“It was surreal,” Madsen said.
Madsen didn’t disappoint either, finishing 4,866 out of 50,641 runners, that was good enough for the top 10 percent.
But Madsen admits he still has more work to do, as New York was the first part of his goal to participate in the three U.S. World majors. The next stop is Boston before he tackles Chicago this upcoming October. For Madsen, the Boston Marathon is the one he is looking forward to the most, saying Boston is more special, especially since Monday’s race will be the five-year anniversary of the Boston Bombing that saw three killed with hundreds of more injured.
“Absolutely, by a long shot,” said Madsen when asked if the Boston Marathon had more meaning than the other marathons. “It installs that American spirit into people...It’s similar to what happened after 9/11. It reminded us that we are vulnerable but we love our freedoms and lifestyle so much but we won’t be bullied. The race is really unique, you actually run through seven towns before ending up down by Fenway Park. It’s going to be an amazing experience.”
But there was a time when Madsen wasn’t sure if he was still going to be able to compete. There were too many qualified runners and not enough slots. There were 5,000 more qualified runners than available spots, so the Boston Marathon had to move the qualified time up by three minutes, 23 seconds. For a while Madsen was nervous, but his qualified time was four minutes and five seconds better than the original cutoff time which meant he was safe. Now, Madsen is just going to enjoy the ride and enjoy every moment of what this race offers.
“For me it’s just the whole experience, and to live in the moment sort of thing and to get the chance to experience the support and comradery, Madsen said. It’s just a humbling thing and it’s fun to talk about.”