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Local pair to run New York City Marathon this Sunday.

  • Bond Wellness Center Exercise is Medicine Coordinator Hannah Ladeau and Peterborough resident Doug Whitney are running the New York City Marathon this Sunday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin

  • Peterborough resident Doug Whitney and Bond Wellness Center's Hannah Ladeau get some treadmill work in ahead of this weekend's run in the New York City Marathon. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, November 01, 2018 12:54AM

Doug Whitney wanted to do something special to mark his 60th birthday.

The longtime Peterborough resident hit the milestone birthday in March and figured why not take another crack at running the New York City Marathon. Training for a marathon in your 60s is an accomplishment in itself, but for Whitney it means more than that. Men in his family don’t generally live this long.

“I’m the oldest living Whitney male,” he said. “So for me, I thought this would be a great birthday present.”

And even though he suffers from a heart condition known as cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscles that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body, that’s not about to stop him from living his life the way he wants. He’s kind of playing with house money at this point anyway.

Whitney has run two marathons in his life – one in Manchester and New York three years ago. Sure he’d love to run Boston, but you either have to meet a qualifying time, which he won’t for his age bracket, or join a fundraising team. But really wanting to just run another marathon without asking friends and relatives for money, New York makes the most sense. You can enter a lottery for a chance to be one of thousands selected to run.

So Whitney put his name in the drawing back in January and then shortly after it came up during conversation with Hannah Ladeau, exercise is medicine coordinator at the Bond Wellness Center. Whitney has been going to the Wellness Center since it opened in 2000 and has gotten to know Ladeau thanks to her work there for the last couple years.

Ladeau, a track athlete at Milford High School, has run a couple half marathons and plenty of shorter races, but hadn’t quite reached the point where she was chomping at the bit for the chance to run a full marathon just yet. She always figured she’d run one one day – she just didn’t have any plans to do it this soon. But still that conversation with Whitney led Ladeau add her name to the lottery.

“Doug is really the reason I signed up,” Ladeau said. “Because I don’t know if I would have done it just yet.”

Well, it turns out she had to get her mind wrapped around training for one, because both her and Whitney, who entered the lottery separately, were chosen to compete in this Sunday’s 49th running of the TCS New York City Marathon. They will be two of more than 50,000 people to toe the starting line for the race that visits all five boroughs of the city.

“I thought ‘what’s the worst that’s going to happen?’” Ladeau said. “And then I was like ‘oh no, what did I do?’”

Both said they would have run if the other wasn’t selected, but it makes for great conversations at the gym when they see each other multiple times during the week. Since they don’t train with each other, because training for a marathon is a huge time commitment and would be hard to match up schedules, they constantly catch up about how things are going. 

At this point, Ladeau and Whitney are in the tapering part of their training. Ladeau said she has four, four milers to go and with only a few days ago, it’s about being mentally prepared for whatever race day brings.

They have swapped stories like Ladeau’s early morning 17-mile run to work from Wilton or how Whitney doesn’t run with music or a cell phone. Whitney admits that training for this marathon has been more difficult than the first two. Must have something to do with the fact he’s now 60.

“The hardest part is the training,” Whitney said. “But there’s something really satisfying to it. You’ve got to want to do it.”

Ladeau said she has surprised herself and enjoys the training, even though some days it feels like it has taken over her life.

“The whole training has been the biggest experience of my life,” Ladeau said. “My weekends are based on when I’m going to run, how far I’m going to run and what I’m going to eat. It’s like another full time job.”

And while the two won't run together on Sunday – Ladeau starts at 10:40 a.m. and Whitney at 11 a.m. – they plan to meet before hand since there’s about an hour or so to kill between check in and race time.

“If we ran together, it would be for maybe a mile and I’d still be looking at her ponytail the whole way,” Whitney said.

Whitney’s daughter is flying up from North Carolina and his wife will be there, while Ladeau has quite the pit crew coming with her boyfriend, parents and brother from Pennsylvania.

As for the goals for the big day? Sure, finishing is always a good thing, but each has a time they’d like to achieve. For Ladeau, it’s between four hours and 4:15, while Whitney is hoping to land around 5:15.

“For me, it is about finishing, but I do want to better my time from a few years ago,” Whitney said.

For Whitney, he hopes to run another marathon before hanging up his running shoes, although his daughter, Nicole, an operating room nurse, would rather he stop due to his heart condition. Ladeau though has caught the marathon bug. She has already committed to running the Berlin Marathon next year as part of competing in the six major marathons that also include Boston, Tokyo, Chicago and London.

“I always wanted to do Boston, but I guess I have to do one at least to qualify,” Ladeau said.

But first they’ll enjoy Sunday – one mile at a time.