BOSTON (CBS) — Of the 30,000 runners who will line up in Hopkinton on Marathon Monday, only 28 men are good enough to be part of John Hancock’s Elite field. One of them is Tim Ritchie, who was born and trains in Massachusetts.
Ritchie’s transformation from a Boston College track athlete and then coach, to the present day coach of the UMass Minutemen Cross Country team, has seen the 31-year-old shed many layers.
“Now I definitely miss the flow,” Ritchie said of his long hair in college. “I don’t think my mother was a big fan of it so maybe that has something to do with it.”
The Worcester native has not stopped eating up the pavement. He’s a homegrown John Hancock Elite marathon athlete. He trains in Massachusetts year-round and it is a running badge of honor.
“We all have a chip on our shoulders out here in Massachusetts and we take that special pride in being tougher than the elements. That community feeling, that kind of drawing on the hard work you put in and the freezing cold winters, the snow and the ice,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie mentions that the Boston Marathon bug came from watching the race as a spectator at Boston College.
“People who are running five hours and still getting up and over Heartbreak Hill to Boston College and that was inspiring. In 2011, when Ryan Hall ran 2:04 there, that was kind of the moment for me where I wanted a piece of that,” Ritchie said.
Since then, competing against the Boston Marathon course has been his quest. He has challenged this course twice before.
“For now, I would consider myself 0 for 2 in my two attempts at Boston,” Ritchie said. “I had a really rough one in 2013 and then I was a DNF last year. I thought in 2013 I had run Heartbreak Hill more than any other runner in the field, probably by a 1,000 repetitions, but when I hit it on Marathon Monday it was a totally different, a totally different hill, totally different feeling.”
Ritchie is ready to do it again. His approach is rather interesting. Instead of pumping himself up, he stays calm and steady.
“You know, if you are too competitive early, it could pay, you can pay a price for that. For me, it’s about really staying within myself and trusting my teammates,” Ritchie said.
Just like a baseball player who hits a game winning home run or basketball player who hits the game-winning shot, Ritchie dreams of winning the Boston Marathon and then thanking all those who helped to get him there.
“You know every time I get on the starting line of a race, I think back to when I first started running in high school in Worcester and all the miles that have led to that moment so, for me, it wouldn’t just be me wearing the wreath, it would be hundreds of coaches and mentors and teammates and friends that have really been part of the journey,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie says he feels right where he needs to be with the training. He will run the race and hope to win the wreath.