For Stommel, River Trail starts his marathon training

by | Oct 1, 2000 | News Articles

October, 2000 Fit to be Tied Column

From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi

For Stommel, River Trail starts his marathon training

The typical runner will train to peak for this Sunday’s River Trail Marathon. But for Pueblo’s Joe Stommel, the River Trail triggers the start of his training.

Say, what? You mean this guy hasn’t been putting in 60 or 70 miles a week during the past few months getting ready for the 17th annual running of the River Trail?

Hardly. You see, Stommel is devoted to the Jeff Galloway marathon training program. It’s a relatively low-mileage program that extends over about four months and stresses a long, slow training run every other week.

Evidently, Stommel is hooked on the feeling produced by the Galloway program, since this is the 16th year he is following it. And this is about the sixth time that he’s started his long-distance training at the River Trail.

“Every year now it signifies the kickoff to my marathon training,” said Stommel, who will celebrate his 51st birthday Wednesday. At the end of the rainbow for his training is the Las Vegas International Marathon held the first Sunday in February. In 1989, he recorded his marathon personal best there with a time of 3 hours, 16 minutes.

He won’t come close to that at the River Trail this Sunday, since the Galloway program calls for him to walk five minutes for every 45 minutes that he runs. Last year he did the River Trail in 4:11. That’s respectable for most marathoners but hardly a true picture of what Stommel probably will run in Vegas this February. In 1996, he ran 3:21 in Vegas to qualify for the 100th running of the Boston Marathon, which he did and recorded pictorially by carrying a camera all 26.2 miles.

Don’t be misled into thinking that Stommel doesn’t train very hard on the Galloway program. The long run every other week will build up to 26 miles, albeit slow ones. On alternate weeks, he’ll do mile repeats, increasing the number until he does 12 of them at a 7:05 pace in the middle of a 15- to 17-mile run. He also does speedwork every Wednesday, usually at the East High School track.

Joe doesn’t claim to be the most talented runner, but he puts in the hard miles that enable him to excel. In addition to his 3:16 marathon, his personal bests are 1:28 in the half, 40:35 in the 10K and 18:25 in a downhill 5K.

“A lot of people can beat me but no one can outwork me,” he noted emphatically.

Stommel is a Racine, Wisconsin native who migrated to Rifle, CO in 1982 to take a job in a mental health clinic after starting running a year earlier while quitting smoking. In 1990, he took his current job in Cañon City as an administrator of substance abuse treatment programs for the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Along the way, he married and settled in Pueblo with his wife, Kathy. A multi-sport fitness devotee herself, Kathy will run the half-marathon when they trek to Vegas in February. This Sunday, she’ll be coordinating the finish line for both the River Trail Marathon and Half-Marathon.

The River Trail Marathon

The River Trail Marathon will start at 7 a.m. Sunday at the Pueblo Regional Center in Pueblo West. The half-marathon will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the halfway point of the marathon just past the Pueblo Reservoir’s North Marina Road. Both point-to-point races will finish in the parking lot of the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center in downtown Pueblo.

The award ceremonies for the races will be at the Pueblo Convention Center beginning at approximately 11 a.m. for the half and about 1 p.m. for the marathon.

Registration for both races will remain open until race day, although a late fee of $5 is in effect through Saturday and a $10 late fee the day of the race. Entry forms are available at the Pueblo YMCA and Gold Dust Saloon in Pueblo as well as the Runner’s Roost in Colorado Springs and various running stores along the front range.

Ben Valdez of the YMCA is the race director, and he can be reached at the YMCA at 543-5151.

Upcoming Area Races

* Oct. 7 – HARP Riverwalk 5K Run & Walk, 8 a.m., Downtown Riverwalk.
* Oct. 8 – River Trail Marathon & Half-Marathon, 7 a.m., Pueblo West.
* Oct. 28 – Harvest Prediction Run, 5M, 5 p.m., Pueblo West.
* Nov. 11 – Temple Canyon Prediction Run, 4M, 9 a.m., Cañon City.
* Nov. 19 – Atalanta Women’s 5K Run/Walk, 5K, 8:45 a.m., City Park.

See ya next month.

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