Arlington’s Decker runs marathon

Arlington’s John Decker proudly shows off the first-place ribbon that he received for his age category at the Tacoma City Marathon on May 1. - Kirk Boxleitner
Arlington’s John Decker proudly shows off the first-place ribbon that he received for his age category at the Tacoma City Marathon on May 1.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — John Decker never set out to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but his years of commitment to distance running yielded an unexpected dividend when he entered the Tacoma City Marathon for the first time this year.

Although the 16-year-old Arlington native doubts he’ll be heading to Massachusetts anytime soon, he was still proud to clock in at three hours, 58 minutes and seven seconds in the 26-mile marathon on May 1, especially since the longest he’d ever run before then was 10 miles at a time. Anything under four hours qualifies a runner for the Boston Marathon.

“I’ve been distance running since the seventh grade,” Decker said. “Cross country pushed me to do more than three miles at a time, and this year, I went from six to 10 miles just to see if I could do it.”

Encouraged by one of his teachers to try something he’d never attempted before, Decker decided to train for the Tacoma City Marathon, since he already liked running.

“I kept pace for a three hour, 50 minute finish until mile 22,” Decker said. “I was really motivated to finish, because it was a really big deal to me, but I didn’t really think about it as I was doing it.”

Decker credits his success to pacing himself and maintaining a consistent running schedule, with no days off.

“I was running at least six miles a day,” Decker said. “You just put your mind in a different place. Rather than focusing on the run, I thought about what was going on at school, or different things that had happened during the day.”

Although the day of the marathon proved to be hot, especially for the Pacific Northwest, and Decker walked away with a little bit of pain, he still considered the weather mostly favorable, and was happy to have achieved his goal of finishing the course.

“He picked up the pace and started sprinting hard near the end,” said Decker’s aunt, Heather Herrera, who watched her nephew take home the first-place ribbon for the ages 15-19 category, and come in 111th out of 342 runners overall. “We were all really cheering him on. The average finishing time was four and a half hours. His coach once told him that he must have been born with wings on his feet.”

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