- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - What do they know about hills in Boston?

There are four of them near the end of the course of the Boston Marathon. They come late in the race when runners are beginning to feel the fatigue.

Mark Struble is training to run that race as a member of the Alzheimer’s Association team in just two months, and he’s running up and down the hills around Carson City to train.

Four little hills in Boston. Meh.

Well, that’s what the former ranger for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management hopes.

“There are three words marathon runners like to say: ‘I finished Boston.’ That’s my mantra,” said Struble, 58, who ran his first marathon at 57 and has run three of them in just over a year.

“In Boston you do not hit the hills until Mile 16,” he said. “I’m training doing the downhill first, then pushing it at the hills. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I do not want DNF - did not finish - by my name.”

This particular marathon, is special for Struble.

His grandmother had Alzheimer’s Disease, as does his mother.

“It’s the only cause I run for,” he said.

“Alzheimer’s is a concern I have not only for my generation we all are living longer and a lot might live long enough to get brain disease but I do not want my kids to have to deal with it,” he said. “Alzheimer’s only gets a fraction of research money, but this is something I can do.”

During the California International Marathon in December, Struble raised $8,500 for Alzheimer’s research, and he’s hoping to raise at least $15,000 by the time of the Boston Marathon on April 20.

The Alzheimer’s Association receives 20 race bibs and seeks applicants to wear them in the competition.

“More than 2,000 runners are qualified as applicants,” he said. “I think they (the association) may have been touched by my story.”

Since Labor Day, Struble has run about 800 miles around Carson City, up and down hill, training for the 26.2 mile race.

“It’s not the 26.2 miles that get you,” Struble said. “It’s the 1,200 miles (training).”

The Boston Marathon route starts at its high point of 490 feet in elevation and ends at 10 feet, but small hills dot the course. The legendary four hills near the end include Heartbreak Hill, generally considered the toughest part of the course.

Struble was born and raised in Texas. When his family took a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, he saw park rangers and thought they had a great job.

Eventually he landed that dream job with the National Park Service, where he also started running. Then he joined the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as an outdoor recreation planner. In those jobs, he worked in various places around the west.

In 1997 he came to Carson City where he retired a few years ago as the BLM public affairs officer. Struble continues to work part-time as Fire Information Officer for the Sierra Front, particularly during wildfire season.

He’s also vice president of the Tahoe Mountain Milers running club, which hosts races in the area.

“I’m retired so this gets me out of the house,” Struble said.

His wife Gail is a swimmer.

“I think she’s glad I have a lot of energy,” he said of his running life.

He has a son, Will, studying at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a daughter, Julie Havel, who ran the Honolulu Marathon recently with her husband Steve, becoming an inspiration for Struble to run marathons. His younger daughter, Alisha, is a senior at Carson High School.

“I have no plans after the marathon,” Struble said. “There are so many great races. I’d like to run the San Francisco Marathon, but that’s during fire season.”

His “bucket list” includes the Boston run and the Athens Marathon in Greece.

“It’s the original marathon,” he said. “That would be fun.”

Struble is soliciting contributions for his fundraising at www.crowdrise.com/alzheimerassociationboston2015/fundraiser/markstruble.


Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, https://www.rgj.com

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