Winfield runs for magic number | ParkRecord.com

Winfield runs for magic number

Matthew Piper, OF THE RECORD STAFF

James Winfield wanted to do something special to commemorate his 33rd marathon in the last three years. A devout Christian, Winfield is fond of threes in remembrance of the Holy Trinity, and 33 is his favorite number.

So at 44 years old, Winfield will mark the special occasion with his inaugural appearance in the world’s oldest and most well-known annual road race, the Boston Marathon, on Monday, April 19.

He had never run in a marathon three years ago when he entered the Salt Lake City Marathon and finished 77th overall as a 41-year-old. The lifelong runner discovered a new passion for longer distances and went on to run in five more that year, including the local Park City and Mid-Mountain marathons.

The next year was his busiest, with Winfield taking part in 14 marathons in 2008.Winfield shrugs off the accomplishment of running 26.22 miles almost once per month at an age when many people start winding down their physical activity. He met one woman who ran 65 in a single year.

"Running just gives you so many incredible stories," he said. "You meet so many amazing people."

Winfield said tales of toenails falling off and other nasty ailments are often exaggerated by athletes looking for an easy way out.

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"Once you really want to run, you just get through it," he said, describing running with a huge blister on his foot at Catalina Island in California a few weeks ago.

People are also surprised to hear that Winfield runs year-round in a ski town, but he finds an added benefit to the frosty workouts: His feet stay cool.

"The funnest run I had last year was when 20 inches fell in Park City," he said.

Winfield moved to Park City three years ago as a project engineer working for Daedalus USA at Deer Valley Resort. He loves downhill skiing and found that local trail running offers him a similar sense of exhilaration.

"Because of all the hills in Park City, it’s incredible to train here," Winfield said. "It’s absolutely beautiful. There’s nowhere else in the country with access to trails like this."

Running the Boston Marathon was never a major goal for Winfield, but after submitting a donation to the Hall Steps Foundation led by U.S. running super couple Ryan and Sara Hall he received an invitation in the mail to secure a guaranteed entry bib.

The Hall Steps Foundation is a charity that helps tackle rising rates of poverty aggravated by global recession. Winfield’s job was to raise $5,000 within 30 days of the race.

"That’s about the scariest thing involved with this whole run," Winfield said. "I have no fundraising experience. I just have faith that if I do the right thing, the money will come."

Despite his lack of expertise, he has already surpassed his original goal of raising $5,000 and is now aiming for $10,000, with the hope that corporate sponsors will get involved.

As for the race itself, Winfield is shooting for a time under three hours. His personal record is a 3:01 he can’t seem to break free from his beloved threes. Two years ago he tried to run the Mid-Mountain Marathon in less than 3:33 without anything to track his heart rate or time and wound up finishing with exactly 3 hundredths of a second to spare: 3:33:59.57.

Making it tricky this time, he said, is that the foundation’s runners will start dead last, and he’ll have to fight through some 25,000-odd competitors. Luckily, his inclusion on the Steps Foundation team gets him a complimentary massage.

Visit http://www.ryanandsarahall.com for more information on how to donate to the foundation.