ISU senior qualifies for Boston Marathon on first try

AMES, Iowa -- When Iowa State University senior Steve Arntson ran his first marathon, he just wanted to finish. Not only did Arntson finish, he qualified for the prestigious Boston Marathon to be held April 19.

Last October, Arntson, a logistics and supply chain management major from Cedar Falls, ran in the IMT-Des Moines marathon for fun. A former high school cross-country runner, Arntson had planned on doing a half-marathon last fall when a friend talked him into doing the full-length race.

"So last July, I really started pumping my mileage and working toward the full marathon," Arntson said.

With a time of 3 hours and 6 minutes, he "squeaked" in to the Boston Marathon, which requires a time of no more than 3 hours and 10 minutes for males 18-34.

Since October, Arntson has been training. And training. And training some more. He ran outside almost daily during Iowa's most recent brutal winter.

"That's been ridiculous, trying to run through some of this weather," he said. "Not the most fun."

Arntson says preparing mentally -- not just physically -- is key.

"It's definitely a mental game," he said.

During the Des Moines marathon, for example, Arntson said he felt his body shutting down at one point.

"That was the first time I'd been to the point where I thought I couldn't do something," he said. "But I just thought back to all the miles I'd run and all the people around me pulling for me and the other runners encouraging me. And that got me through."

Two high school friends, who ran the Boston Marathon, inspired him to go for it this year. And he's afraid he won't have time to train after he starts work in the supply chain department of Best Buy Corp. in Minneapolis.

But sometime in the distant future, he would like to run an ultra marathon. That's approximately two marathons back to back (or 52.4 miles).

"Running has helped me to be a self starter. Some weekend mornings I have to get up at 7 a.m. to run 17 miles, when my friends may have gotten to party the night before," Arntson said.

"I really just like to see what my body can do and what I can get myself to accomplish. It's a personal accomplishment and solely my own, that's something I like about it," he said. "I know I can definitely rely on myself."

Arntson leaves for Boston April 14 accompanied by his parents and fiancee.