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Front Page » May 7, 2002 » Sports » World famous marathon attracts the interest of local runners
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World famous marathon attracts the interest of local runners


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By KAREN BASSO
Sports writer


A friendly invite to visit London turned into a chance of a lifetime for Leland Jonas who took advantage of the trip and ran in the world's largest marathon. With over 35,000 participants, Jonas was the 3,595 runner to cross the finish line, placing him in the top 89 percentile of those who finished the race. The gold medal around Jonas' neck was presented to all who successfully completed the 26 mile long marathon.

Strength, endurance, and commitment are all qualities that marathon runners have in common. But what sets Leland Jonas apart from all the others is his patience. At age 57, Jonas recently competed in the largest marathon in the world, the London Marathon. With 35,875 runners finishing the race, Jonas was amongst the large pack who successfully completed the world renowned event on April 14.

Jonas began running in 1982 when he joined the National Guards marathon team. As part of this team, Jonas had the opportunity to travel across the country to compete against thousands of dedicated runners. Some of Jonas' biggest finishes came while running for the military team. In fact, at a Marine Corp. marathon Jonas finished in one hundreth place in a group of 12,000 runners.

Over the years, Jonas has competed in several famous marathon events including the Boston Marathon in 1989. This event remains the most significant in Jonas' career. Out of a total of 10,000 runners, Jonas finished in four hundredth place. "This is the oldest marathon in the world. It began in the 1800's and remains my favorite," explained Jonas.

As the years quickly past by, Jonas found himself running less. Although Jonas tries to run at least four days a week, he has not ran much in marathon events in the past several years. "I'm getting older, so I just don't compete as much. I do stay limber and run quite often. When the chance comes up to participate in a marathon, I will take it just as I did with the London Marathon," explained Jonas.

The chance arose when Jonas' cousin was transferred with the state department to England. The cousin called up and invited Jonas to come stay and visit in the spring. "He told me I just as well come in the spring and run in the marathon while I was there. I had always wanted to run in the event, and I couldn't turn down the offer," an excited Jonas explained.

After deciding to participate in the event, Jonas contacted a travel agent who set him up with the travel package which included an entrance into the marathon. "Most of the runners are sponsored by corporations run for charities. For those of us that run without sponsorship, it is quite pricey and difficult to get in. Luckily, I was able to enter the event and had a blast."

The London Marathon has been in existence for 22 years, and has raised millions of dollars for charities throughout the year. The event draws runners from across the world. "This is a huge event in England. The streets are packed with onlookers throughout the route. The Olympics had thousands of people attending different events at various times. The London Marathon was over 37,000 runners and over 100,000 spectators. It was unlike anything I've ever seen," Jonas explained.

According to Jonas, the marathon was an interesting event. Runners would dress up in outrageous costumes and run the 26 mile marathon route. One man ran in a deep sea diving uniform and was the last to cross the finish line. In fact, by the time the man reached the end of the race, the diving boots he was wearing had been worn down, leaving no soles on them.

Another runner dribbled the basketball the entire route. Jonas on the other hand, like many other runners ran in more comfortable clothing, shorts and tank tops. The race was not only fun for the athletes, but it was also an experience of a lifetime.

The race was one of historical qualities, with the route passing by several notable landmarks. The race officially started just outside of London near Grenwich at the Royal Observatory Park. The route then passed the Towers Bridge, Towers London and the Tames River. The race then wrapped up at James Park, just outside of Buckingham Palace. Here, the dedicated runners proudly crossed the finish line, including Jonas who was the 3,595 racer to complete the race successfully. This finish put Jonas in the 89 percentile of top finishers.

Jonas' time of three hours, 22 minutes, and 39 seconds was an amazing time for the American runner, but what excites Jonas is that for the first time in the history of the event, an American finished in first place with the time of two hours, five minutes, and 30 seconds. "I was almost an hour behind the winner, but at least I finished and I finished strong."

The event was a milestone in the local runners career. To this day, Jonas has three work-out schedules that are spread throughout Carbon County. For the most part, Jonas tries to run most of his workouts at the local track in order to protect his joints. Because the track is made of rubber, the track is softer to run on and prevents serious joint injury.

Because Jonas is a marathon runner, he also can be found across the area running, including Wood Hill, and the shoulders of Highway 6 between Helper and Price and often times between Price and Wellington. Jonas also runs through the Carbonville area and can be seen almost always walking, jogging, or riding his bicycle. The only time Jonas drives is between his home and work in Castle Dale and also on long distance trips such as one to Salt Lake. "I also drive my car to the posse grounds to pick up manure because it's too hard to carry on a bike," joked Jonas.

According to Jonas, the characteristics that make him a successful runner are patience, discipline, and the setting of goals. "You can't push yourself too hard or you will end up burning out. A runner has to have patience, by pushing yourself too hard, the conditioning will be all wrong. By setting goals and working toward them gradually, anyone can become a successful runner."

Although Jonas has not ran in many marathons in recent years, he still wants to compete in several high profile races including events held in Berlin, Paris, and Helsinche. "Maybe in a year or two I can save enough money to travel overseas and participate in another marathon. I will continue to stay conditioned and limber whether I will run in another marathon or not," concluded Jonas.

While traveling the roadways of Carbon County, don't be surprised to find Jonas running past. From the roadways of Utah to the streets of London, Jonas has accomplished a lifetime of memories by doing what he enjoys the most, running.


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