Of the Baker City Herald

Despite a bout with the flu, a hurting hamstring and a side ache, Steve Williams finished the 110th Boston Marathon on Monday and actually sounded quite chipper when he called to report by cell phone.

andquot;I'm walking, so that's good,andquot; he said with a laugh about an hour after he crossed the finish line.

His time for the 26.2-mile race was 3:52:05, and his average pace per mile was 8:51.

Runners must qualify for the Boston Marathon by completing a marathon with a certain time 3 hours and 10 minutes for males ages 18-34, and 3 hours, 40 minutes for females in the same age range. The qualifying time is adjusted upward as age increases.

Williams, 48, qualified when he finished the 2005 Portland Marathon in three hours, 25 minutes and 52 seconds.

His goal in Boston was to finish in three hours and 30 minutes, but his last four weeks of training were a bit sidetracked after he came down with the flu and then had to seek help at Baker Valley Physical Therapy for a tight hamstring.

As he ran the Boston Marathon, Williams kept track of his race time right up to the last.

He didn't, however, know his exact official time.

andquot;I was so excited to cross the finish line I forgot to push stop on my watch,andquot; he said.

This was his fourth marathon, and this time Williams decided to run for a cause. He chose the Shriners Children's Hospital as his charity he played in the East-West Shrine Game in 1976 and his goal was to raise $1,000 for every mile of the marathon.

Before he left for Massachusetts with his wife, Janet, Williams scheduled a visit to the Shriners Hospital in Portland.

andquot;It really did help refresh why I was running,andquot; he said.

As of Monday, he'd raised $10,479.95 for Shriners, and another $8,345.40 for Rotary International (he's president of the Baker City Rotary Club).

Donations are still being accepted, and those received by June 15 will be recognized in the program for the 2006 East-West Shrine Game to be held in Baker City on Aug. 5.

Donation forms are available at any U.S. Bank branch in Northeast Oregon, or donations can be made directly to the East-West Shrine Football Game c/o Randy Guyer, treasurer, 2790 Main St., Baker City, OR 97814.

About the marathon

The Boston Marathon began in 1897 on Patriot's Day, a holiday that commemorates the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.

Each year the event attracts 20,000 racers. The course starts in Hopkinton, Mass., and winds its way through small towns toward the finish line at Copley Square in Boston.

Williams said the residents of these Massachusetts communities come out en masse to greet the racers.

andquot;It's quite an event,andquot; he said. andquot;All these little towns you run through turn out they line the road three people deep, little kids hand out water bottles.andquot;

He said Monday was andquot;the perfect day for running.andquot;

But before the end, after the runners have pounded 20-some miles of pavement, these racers tackle Heartbreak Hill, the last of four andquot;Newton hillsandquot; that challenge racers at the tail end of the course.

Fortunately, Baker City's terrain had trained him well.

andquot;It was near as bad as everyone says,andquot; he said. andquot;If you can run Reservoir Road, you can run Heartbreak Hill. The only thing is it comes at mile 20 and your legs area little tired.andquot;

But no matter what race he's running, Williams said the finish line is always a welcome sight.

andquot;When you turn up the street and see the balloons marking the end, you think, 'Finally!'andquot; he said.