Longenecker wins two marathons

By on December 30, 2013

By:

BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor bmorgan.eph@lnpnews.com

, Staff Writer

Bobby Longenecker knows a thing or two about being a multi-tasker.

How else would you explain his recent trip to the southwest region of the country?

The Lititz native was in Albuquerque, N.M. during the fall for a physical therapy rotation. But while there, Longenecker, a Drexel University post-graduate student working toward his doctorate, also squeezed in time for other interests.

Like running a couple of marathons.

In fact, the 24-year-old claimed top honors in the Panhandle Marathon in Lubbock, Texas, in 2:41.46 on Sept. 29, then broke the tape first in the Tucson (Ariz.) Marathon on Dec. 8 in 2:33.21.

"I would say (Tucson) was my first big win because it was a more competitive race," said Longenecker, who also placed runner-up in the Albuquerque Marathon in November. "I definitely felt a lot better about winning the one in Tucson."

That marked the 17th different state in which Longenecker has finished a marathon – all under 3 hours – since his first one during his high school days.

"It was a tradition at Lancaster Mennonite for the seniors to run a marathon after cross country," said Longenecker, who graduated from LMH in 2007 and Penn State in 2010. "So a couple of us have been doing a couple a year. We’re trying to do one in every state."

Certainly he would love for all of his marathons to go as smoothly as the one in Tucson. Averaging a mile pace of 5:51, Longenecker outlegged Ian Sharman, of Bend, Ore., to the finish by four seconds.

"I would say it’s been my favorite (marathon) so far," Longenecker said. "It’s my fastest time I’ve ever run. I think training at altitude really helped and it’s definitely my favorite course I’ve done so far."

One of 891 runners in the race, Longenecker took a conservative approach early on, posting splits of roughly 5:55.

"I kinda had to make a decision if I wanted to run that pace for the rest of the race," he said, "or try to get up to the lead pack. There was a headwind the whole time, so I decided to make the move and try to get up to the pack. Then (other runners) started falling off and I had it that day. With a marathon, some days you have it, some days you don’t and I had a good day."

Longenecker was in fourth place at the five-mile point, then kicked his pace up a bit and set his sights on two runners together in second and third, eventually catching them after a mile or two.

Near the 14-mile point, he pulled away from them and began reeling in Sharman.

"It took me about five miles because I was running about a 5:40 pace," Longenecker said. "Then I passed him at 19 with a 5:21 mile (pace) and I didn’t look back from there."

His high school buddies were unable to make it to the southwest for any of the marathons due to other commitments. But they plan to keep in touch through their love of running and work together toward their goal of doing a marathon in all 50 states.

"These are all guys that I’ve biked across the country with … we’re just always looking to do something adventurous and this is a way for us to be doing it together," Longenecker said.

Among those that they have finished include the Boston and New York City marathons.

"I have loved both of them," Longenecker remarked. "We’ve done the big races like that and we’ve done smaller ones and each marathon has its own different feel to it and its own little culture. It’s fun to see different cities and different areas and each marathon is a little bit different."

To this point, Longenecker has completed 21 total marathons in 17 states. But there is no timetable in place to finish their quest.

"This is a lifetime goal," Longenecker said. "This is going to be something to keep us together and as friends for the next 30 years or so, I’d say. We’re not going super fast doing them, and I’m sure once I get married and start working full-time and stuff, it’s going to slow down a little bit. But it’s something to keep us together."

More LONGENECKER, page B-4