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Joanne Harms has a good start on her second 100 — marathons, that is.
When I spoke with her in early April, she and her husband, Hunter, her devoted support person, were days away from driving cross-country to Boston. On April 17, she successfully completed marathon number 110 in Boston.
Here’s what she had to say about the race: “I finished slower than I would have liked due to heat and my bad foot acting up. But Boston is always a treat and memories of the course and the wonderful crowds will live on forever！It is one of those courses where whenever you need a lift you just head over to the side of the road and slap the outreached hands of your adoring fans. Couple that with visits with family and tasting the Samuel Adams seasonal “26.2 Brew” and you have a truly memorable trip. We get home 4/24 after a side trip to Denver for the Cherry Creek Sneak! My Boston time was 4:48:13.”
Joanne has a history with this race which she admits is a favorite. In 2007 she ran her 50th marathon in Boston and at the time figured that would be her last trip to the iconic event. She ran her first Boston Marathon in 1996 — the 100th running of the race — and then repeated in 1997, 2000, 2003 and in 2007, when she was 55.
As the years went by, Joanne had a change of heart and Boston called to her once again. But plans to do her 100th marathon in Boston had to be postponed. After 30 years of injury-free running, problems popped up. She endured a stress fracture, hamstring tear, Morton’s neuroma and hip weakness. Still, she never gave up her dream of doing Boston again and in 2015 it came true.
“Being older and slower,” she says, “I was blessed to be in Wave 4, the last wave to start. It meant that port-a-potty lines were shorter at the start and she didn’t have to arrive quite so early.” But the rain, which she had been dreading, arrived on schedule and there was nothing to do but don her rain gear and get out there and run. “I found the rain kept me fresh and hydrated and that I didn’t mind it at all.”
Despite an encounter with garden shears when she nearly lost a finger, she finished the race in good shape. Some would say, that might have been a good time to stop but instead Joanne had surgeries to repair her finger and a neuroma in her foot, and began thinking about her second 100 marathons.
“During the 2015 race I saw some 70 and 80 year-olds wearing special tags on their backs and I thought, how cool! In seven years I’ll be 70 and maybe I can qualify one more time.”
After completing Boston 2017, she plans to maintain her perfect attendance at the seventh running of the Aspen marathon. And she’ll do an Evergreen to Morrison marathon plus two more in the next few months.
Joanne didn’t run until she was newly-diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1981. Despite some early misgivings, her doctor finally had to agree that her running was making her stronger. After doing a single 3K race, she was hooked. At age 36 she did her first marathon in New York. “It was so exciting,” she said. She has plans to return to New York this fall.
The marathon is far and away her favorite distance, though she participates in races of all distances, from from 5Ks to 26.2 miles. “You really get your money’s worth when you do a marathon,” she says.
Most weekends she and Hunter are off to the races. “I run nearly every weekend,” Joanne explained. She puts in so much mileage in races that she rarely needs to do long training runs. Although she has clocked a 7.01 mile and a 3:30 marathon, times are not important to her. Rather it is the journey and the fact that she finished the race that inspires her.
Hunter fell in love with running about the same time he married Joanne nine years ago. Although he does not run, he loves the camaraderie of races, visiting with other supportive spouses and assisting Joanne in any way he can. “He always finds the best parking places,” she says.
A psychiatric nurse for the Veterans Administration, Joanne often works with PTSD patients and feels that her running experience and determination to keep at it regardless of challenging health issues makes her more empathetic with her patients. She turned 65 this year and plans to work until January of 2020.
Then she’ll have time to train her favorite pet as a therapy dog and to run whenever she pleases. She figures she runs at least 1,500 miles a year and her lifetime total tops 50,000 miles. She has no plans to stop