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Mindel bracing for headwind at Boston

Mindel bracing for headwind at Boston

Lousy weather in the forecast will be rough on finish times, but former Shen star is in shape for another solid performance
Mindel bracing for headwind at Boston
Scott Mindel competes in the Boston Tune-up 15k in Upton, Mass. on March 31. He's running his fourth Boston Marathon on Monday.
Photographer: PHOTO PROVIDED

Scott Mindel will be going to church Monday morning.

Not necessarily to pray, although that may be a good idea, too.

The former cross country star at Shenendehowa High School and the University of Cincinnati will be toeing the line in Hopkinton, Mass., for the fourth time in Monday's 122nd Boston Marathon. He was prepared to threaten his Boston personal record, but there isn't much that can prepare a marathoner for cold and rainy weather.

Some days you just have to suck it up and accept whatever finish time you can muster.

The good news is that, because he is in great shape, Mindel probably is in solid position to maintain his record of having finished in the top 30 overall every time he's run this race. That still depends a lot on who shows up, but at least everyone else will be facing the same weather misery.

"It's looking like it's going to be pretty rainy, and windy in the wrong direction," he said on Saturday afternoon. "Most of it usually is west to east."

Runners can always expect to face the characteristic sea breeze coming off Boston Harbor as they get close to the finish in Copley Square, but it appears that this year they'll also have the added delight of some wind in their faces through the body of the 26.2-mile course, which is point-to-point from Hopkinton west of downtown Boston.

Mindel's bib No. 51 puts him in the elite corral at the start, which will afford him certain advantages, like the shelter of a church adjacent to the start line.

After that, it's anybody's guess how fast he'll run.

"There's not really any time goals," he said. "I ran a half marathon at Virginia Beach a couple years ago, and it was a little worse, but it was an out-and-back, so the first 10k was into the wind. I think I ran about 18 [minutes] for the first 5k, and there were some runners in the 62, 63 [minute] range who finished in 68. It was rough.

"The first mile went in 5:45, 5:50. It was about as cold as it can get and it was pouring. I was shivering. It almost felt like I was convulsing at the start."

Mindel, 31, debuted at Boston in 2012, when he finished 19th in 2:27:15.

He finished 30th in 2013 while running a substantially faster time, 2:22:25, then equaled that almost to the second last year in warm weather, a 2:22:27 that was good for 23rd place.

"Last year, I was pretty much on track for a PR the entire time, but I didn't get it because that was the heat getting to me at mile 23," he said.

Mindel and his wife Sasha live in Arlington, Mass., near Boston, which gives him ample opportunity to jump into highly competitive road races not far away on a regular basis.

On Feb. 1, Super Bowl Sunday, he was seventh with a 25:05.07 (5:02 mile pace) at the Super Sunday 5-Mile in Cambridge, Mass., followed by a 1:08:29 (5:14) on March 18 in the New Bedford Half Marathon and a 49:10 (5:16) on March 31 for sixth at the Frank Nealon Boston Tune-up 15k in Upton, Mass.

"I ran 49:10, which is which is pretty funny, because if that was the Stockade-athon, that would've been my third-fastest time," he said.

"New Bedford was really competitive. That was my second-best time, so I was happy with that. It's a pretty nice course. It's really fast from 3 to 9, it's a steady downhill. If you put together my three fastest miles, it could've been my 5k PR. Then you run from 9 to 11 1/2 straight into a headwind along the seawall, then back up a hill to New Bedford. That definitely makes you pay."

As do the hills on the Boston course, which will be compounded by the weather.

"I was hoping, on a fair day, to be around 2:20; I think I'm in shape to be under 2:22," Mindel said. Luckily, I'm in the elite field, so they have this church set up in Hopkinton for the elite runners so you can stay warm and relatively dry.

"We can also leave our gear there. Ever since the bombing, they don't let people leave their gear at the start, but we can do that in the church."

You can pray there, too.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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