The goal of a first-time marathon runner can sometimes be as simple as finishing the race.
At Sunday’s Louisiana Marathon, the majority of runners were so well-prepared that completing the race was a foregone conclusion. Even for novice runners, it seemed the race was only a matter of time.
Katti Smith, who traveled with her husband from the Dallas suburb of Garland, Texas, had been planning to run her first marathon for two years. Sidetracked by the birth of her son in 2013, she was able to train nine months for the Louisiana Marathon.
Her reward was a Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3 hours, 32 minutes, 45 seconds.
“I wanted another challenge, as I’m getting older. I’ll be an older parent, and I want to be a good role model for my son,” said Smith, 42. “I thought, ‘What better way to do that than to set some goals that seem outrageous, and go out and do it?’ ”
Smith ran as far as 22 miles while training, and she always had qualifying for Boston as her primary goal.
“Going in, I had a race plan to get me to Boston,” she said. “It was really hard to stay with it on the first half. You feel so good and get caught up in the energy. You have to watch your pacing and hold back so you’ve got something left at the end.”
Lisa Berry and Paige Emanuel, friends from Memphis, Tennessee, who are in their early 40s, had planned to run their first marathon last year at Chicago. An injury sidelined Berry, but Emanuel went on to complete the task.
Emanuel — the veteran of one marathon — guided Berry through her Louisiana Marathon training, and both posted times good enough to qualify for Boston. The pair crossed the finish line together in 3:43:57.
“We had an unorthodox training method,” Emanuel said. “We ran quite a few 20-milers. Some people in training might run one or two, but we ran seven or eight.”
Running the marathon was a bucket-list item for the pair.
“We’ve been running so long, and we’ve done half marathons,” Berry said. “We thought it was the next step. We wanted to challenge ourselves, and then check the box.”
Baton Rouge’s Adam Turner, 29, also liked the idea of challenging himself. Already part of an early morning running group, Turner and his friends decided to prepare for the Louisiana Marathon.
“We decided about three months ago we were going to do this,” he said. “It’s ramped up since then. We were running in the morning just to stay in shape. So we decided, ‘Why not put a goal on that and come out for the marathon?’ ”
Turner’s goal of running a time under four hours was realized when he finished in 3:58:26.
The runner with the unique goal for the day was Ben Randow of Baton Rouge. Randow and his girlfriend, Davina Witte, both crossed the finish line of the half marathon in 2:20:08.
But it wasn’t a time that Randow was after; it was the answer to a question. A handful of steps past the finish line, Randow dropped to a knee and proposed to Witte.
Randow, who got the response he was hoping for, then made his way down the finishing chute, with Witte’s arms around him.