BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Jim Fritz has an excuse for missing school on April 18.
That morning, the Anthony Wayne Local Schools superintendent will be in historic Hopkinton, Mass., with the nearly 40,000 men and women running 26.2 miles to Boylston Street as part of the oldest annual marathon in the country – the Boston Marathon.
In November, just after turning 50, Fritz finished the Indianapolis Marathon with a time of 3:22:59, which met the Boston Marathon’s 3:25:00 qualifying time.
“Indianapolis was my fastest time. I finally figured it out after running seven marathons,” he said.
In 2013, Fritz started running for his health. He did research and joined a group of other area runners to get tips on training and nutrition.
“It’s something you can do on your own. You don’t need a gym and we have beautiful Metroparks and trails,” he said. “And we have a great community of runners that support one another.”
As part of his training for the Boston Marathon, Fritz and other runners are putting in 50 to 60 miles a week, frequenting the Towpath Trail from Waterville to Grand Rapids and back, Side Cut Metropark from Maumee to Perrysburg and back, and sections of the Wabash Cannonball Trail.
As he prepared for the Whitehouse Primary 5K on April 9, Fritz was joined by one of his running partners, Assistant Superintendent Kevin Herman.
“I’m his No. 2,” Herman laughed, explaining that Fritz – who is three years younger – often comes in just ahead of him. It’s all in good fun and it’s great exercise, Herman said.
As superintendent, Fritz has encouraged fitness for employees and students. Many have taken up running, walking, biking, yoga and swimming for their health.
While teacher Mary Dressel has qualified for the Boston Marathon before, this year Fritz is the only AW employee to be participating, but he won’t be alone. About 45 Toledo area runners, including Waterville residents Tim Kohler and Tim Oser, will be joining him in Boston.
That will help when it comes to finding the hotel and expo as well as understanding a course he’s never seen, Fritz said.
While qualifying for the Boston Marathon is quite an achievement, Fritz said he’s not going to run his fastest that day.
“At Boston I want to run and enjoy it,” he said. “I did a lot of training to qualify and put in a lot of hard work. Boston is a celebration of that effort. I may run a little slower to enjoy it.”
When he gets back, he’ll be participating in the Glass City Marathon in Toledo on April 24 and the Chicago Marathon on October 9.