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Sellers keeps turning back the clock

April 05, 2004

Three hours is the benchmark time for most recreationally competitive male marathoners in their prime.

"Everyone wants to break that 3-hour barrier," said Greg Sellers of Boonsboro.

But most don't, which is why Sellers' current run of sub-3s is so impressive, especially considering he's just two months shy of his 49th birthday.

Two weeks ago, Sellers ran the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, Va., in 2 hours, 50 minutes, 46 seconds, placing 25th overall out of nearly 1,500 competitors. It was his 30th sub-3 performance for a 26.2-mile race, with about half of those being clocked since he turned 40.

Overall, Sellers is 30-for-32 in sub-3 attempts. He said stomach problems forced him to drop out of the Hartford (Conn.) Marathon in the fall of 2002 and "20-below-zero" weather slowed him to a 3:01 at the Great Valley Marathon in Chambersburg, Pa., in the winter of 1994.

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Sellers' marathoning recipe, it seems, is about a cup of speed mixed with about 10 gallons of endurance.

"I'm not very fast, but I can sustain pace for a long time," said the 5-foot-7, 138-pound Sellers. "There are a heck of a lot of people who can run faster, but once I get in that groove I can hold pace pretty good."

He certainly is worlds faster than he was two decades ago, before he started running.

"I smoked from when I was an early teen until I was in my late 20s," Sellers said. "I was 165 pounds. But once I started running, it changed my whole physique. I started with a mile a day and, when that got easier, I just started adding to it."

Now, Sellers, who averages 40-50 miles per week and hits the 70s during peak marathon training, is one of the Tri-State's premier masters (40-and-older) marathoners. And he's shown no real signs of slowing down.

"Maybe that's why my legs are still fresh," Sellers said, "because I didn't abuse them when I was young."

He set his personal record for the marathon - 2:42:07 - when he was 45. He said he hasn't ruled out the idea of clocking an even faster time.

"I'm really thinking I can still achieve a PR if everything goes right," Sellers said. "I don't feel like I've really slowed up any in the last few years."

Sellers, who typically runs two or three marathons each year, said his next stab at the distance could come as soon as May 2 at the Frederick (Md.) Marathon.

"I've recovered pretty good from Shamrock, and Frederick is close by," he said.

Whether he runs Frederick or waits until the fall for his next marathon, another sub-3 probably can be expected from him.

Sellers, however, isn't taking anything for granted.

"That streak is going to end eventually. It has to," he said. "When I start running over 3 hours, I might lose my desire."

But even if Sellers starts running marathons in 4 hours, he likely always will appreciate the distance in life he's covered since the turnaround cone.

"I used to wake up coughing and hacking," he said. "Running's the best thing I've ever done. I'd hate to see what kind of shape I'd be in if I never started running. It's changed my whole lifestyle."

Master of masters


Shippensburg, Pa.'s Steve Spence, the 1992 Olympic marathoner, still is on the fast track.

Last weekend at the Raleigh (N.C.) Relays, Spence, 41, placed second overall in the men's 10,000-meter run in a U.S. masters record time of 30:18.06. Craig Young of Colorado set the previous mark of 30:37.94 for the distance on the track in 1998.

Last August, Spence set the U.S. masters record for 8 kilometers, clocking a 23:47 at the Ausherman 5-Miler in Chambersburg.

No fooling around


The Cumberland Valley Athletic Club's leading ladies made quick work of the 16th annual Fool's Run Scholarship Race 10-Mile and 5K on Saturday in Kutztown, Pa.

Greencastle, Pa.'s Susan Graham-Gray, 35, won the women's 10-mile title in a course-record 1:02:45, while Hagerstown's Maria Spinnler, 42, won the women's 5K title in 18:58.




Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at andrwem@herald-mail.com

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