Commercial-News, Penny Saver, & Sturgis Sentinel Sports

A big day for local runners

By William A. Baltz
Special to the Commercial-News 

KALAMAZOO — Few things are more rewarding to a runner than achieving a much sought-after goal, especially when it’s overcoming challenges to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Nicolette Cole of Three Rivers did just that on Sunday, May 5 at the Zeigler Kalamazoo Marathon with a time of 3:47:20. The Boston Marathon qualifying time for females in her age group, 45-49, at race time next April is 3:50:00.

“Boston became my goal after my first marathon in Charlevoix in 2021. I realized how easy running is for me and how much I enjoy it,” she says.

In 2022, Nicolette came close to qualifying for Boston at the Detroit Marathon. Then she experienced a hairline fracture that kept her from running for six weeks and battled plantar fasciitis in both feet, which impaired her performance at the 2023 Detroit Marathon. “I became very disappointed and mad at myself for several months,” Cole said.

Nicolette, a teacher in Sturgis, says she did all the rights things to prepare for the Kalamazoo Marathon.

“I followed my training plan, slept well and fueled my body, but the week of the race I just kept playing mind games. During the race, I felt amazing until last three miles. I hit the wall. I was mad at myself once again because I saw my time and thought I had blown it. But somehow I caught the unicorn by a few minutes,” she adds, referring to the iconic logo of the Boston Marathon. 

She credits her training group—runners mentioned in this story—for helping her stay the course. “We push each other on days when we don’t want to rise at 4 am. We help each other out so no one is training alone—that is what family does.” 

In addition to Nicolette, the Kalamazoo Marathon event—which featured four separate  races—was a big day for eleven other local runners. Mary Karabetsos competed in her first 10k race, placing second in her age group, 50-54. “I don’t think I would have signed up for the my first 10K without encouragement from my Three Rivers fitness family,” she says. “I was extremely nervous before the race wondering if this was something I could really do. It wasn’t until after I received my award I realized I could do it.” Kevin Paffhausen, 42, finished his first 10k race as well. 

Kathy Griffin placed second in her age group, 60-64, in the full marathon—26.2 miles—and Tammy Shuler finished first in her age group, 60-64, in the half marathon. Bridget Griffioen, a teacher at Andrews Elementary, competed in the half marathon along with Julie Allen, who placed second in her age group, 60-64. Julie says she is pleased with the performance of those in HealthTrackers, a running group she coaches at Beacon Health and Fitness in Three Rivers: Jim Burns and Cindy Johnson finished the half marathon; Mark Hagenbuch, competed in the 5k, as did his wife, Louann, who finished second in her age group, 70-74. In a close race, William Baltz placed third in his age group in the half marathon.

Achieving a Boston Marathon qualifying time does not guarantee entry into the Boston Marathon. That depends on available slots for each age group and the fastest qualifying times in those age groups. If all goes well, Nicolette will be joining several other training partners in the 2025 Boston Marathon. “Being a cancer survivor, I have learned to be a fighter,” Cole says. “So if I’m not accepted to next year’s race, I will get back up, dust off my shorts and try again until they accept me.”

Leave a Reply