The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE department chair qualifies for this month’s Boston Marathon

By John Harden/sports editor

To qualify for one of the world’s oldest marathons, the NE HPE department chair had to finish his first marathon, the San Antonio Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon, in less than 3 hours, 20 minutes.

He made it with less than a minute to spare.

With a time of 3:19.18 seconds, Kevin Harper qualified for the Boston Marathon. It ranks as one of the world’s most well-known road-racing events and one of the world’s oldest annual marathons.

Harper, 39, achieved his goal of finishing a marathon before reaching the age of 40 by completing the San Antonio run.

More than 30,000 participants qualified for the Boston Marathon, and Harper has decided to join them April 20.

Harper managed to maintain an average speed of 7 minutes, 28 seconds per mile in San Antonio but still felt he could have done better.

“I feel satisfaction that I accomplished it,” he said. “But the little thing in my head, probably the competitiveness, says you could have gone faster.”

NE physical education professor Joy Thetford said she was happy for Harper’s qualifying time because few people ever get to do it.

“I think it’s a great accomplishment,” she said. “I know a small percent of people who actually train for marathons don’t actually finish. So for him to finish and qualify is great.”

Thetford said Harper’s performance impressed her and she anticipates his return from Boston.

“I’m looking forward to the stories he has to tell,” she said. “He’s not one to brag on himself, but I’m sure he’ll do fine and that he’ll enjoy himself.”

Prior to leaving for the San Antonio marathon, most of his department members offered Harper their support and encouragement.

“The people here gave me a going away party, which was a very nice way to show their support,” he said. “They are some great people, and it’s great to have support not only from my family but also everyone here at work.”

Harper is married with three children. His wife, Tammy, her mother and two of his three children, Owen, 6, and Maeland, 8, traveled to San Antonio with him. His youngest child, Evelyn, 1, stayed at home with his sister-in-law.

So Harper had his own cheerleading section with his wife and kids present,

“They were all there,” he said. “They were at the mile eight marker, and they were at the finish. All I heard was ‘Oh yeah! Go, Daddy, go Daddy.’”

The experience of his first marathon became not only exciting but also emotional while his family cheered him on.

“Oh gosh, it was wonderful,” he said. “It made it all kind of worth it. You kind of get tears in your eyes a little bit.”

Before the start of his training, Harper realized a marathon could cut into his roles as father and husband, but he made sure his family stood behind his decision.

“It’s a commitment,” he said. “I talked to my wife before doing this and kind of asked her to make sure I had her support because doing a three-hour run on a Sunday cuts into family time.”

Harper’s family provided him with the push and support he needed to help him train toward his goal.

“My wife knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted to accomplish. My kids, on the other hand, were just like, ‘Oh, looks like Daddy’s going out running again,’” he said, smiling.

Besides the Boston Marathon itself, many other events take place days before and after the race. But there’s one thing Harper looks forward to the most.

“Crossing the finish line,” he said.

“And getting one of the finisher’s medals you get once you cross. It’s a good feeling once you cross the line.”

Harper and his wife plan on traveling to Boston but had trouble finding reasonable hotel prices.

“The one room me and my wife looked at was about $560 a night,” Harper said.

“Our mortgage for our house is about that much, so there’s no way we would pay that much.”

Harper said hotels inflated their prices for the week of the marathon, but he found a cheaper alternative on Craig’s List.

“We found a Harvard student who is renting out a room in her apartment for $75 a night. Staying in a stranger’s apartment is kind of the adventurous-slash-scary part of this whole thing,” he said, laughing.

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