Vail’s Vucich shines at the Boston Marathon
Vail, Co Colorado
Usually when human beings hit age 60 they start slowing down.
Either Blondie Vucich is not human or she does not abide to this tacit rule of life. It’s probably the latter.
On April 20, Vail resident Blondie Vucich earned third-place honors in her age group at the Boston Marathon at 60 years young.
Vucich competed in her first marathon at age 48 in Chicago after first trying out competitive running in the valley by entering in the Vail HillClimb and other races in the local circuit.
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Age 48 is usually when people start to realize that their body is not as fit as it used to be and may not react well to starting a new sport other than golf or gambling. Vucich started running on a fresh pair of legs and were not as worn out as other runners are by that age.
If Vucich had run during what most consider their prime, no one knows what she could have accomplished.
“I think it is very interesting when you start running late, you never know what you could have done. For me, it is like having an open book,” said Vucich.
But why start running at such a late age? Why not pick up knitting or scrapbooking?
“I love it, I really do love it. I think it is really fun to set goals and maintain a fit body. I am able to get into a rhythm or a zone. There is a really nice balance; You put a lot of time and effort into training and nutrition and your body comes through for you. For me, it is a very uncomplicated sport and one of the most ancient … just lungs and legs.
“In an era of high technology, it is refreshing to simplify things. I feel blessed that I am able to do this. I ran Boston this year in honor of two friends that are going through chemotherapy.They are going through something tougher than any race I have ever done. I just feel blessed. A lot of it is the camaraderie. I run with the Mountain Divas out of the Vail Athletic Club. It is a very inclusive program.”
Vucich describes the Mountain Divas program as a “big tent.” Vucich explained that the program caters to runners of all capabilities, from those like her who are training for marathons to those who are looking to lose a few pounds to those who are looking for a nice group of people to run with from time to time.
This group, along with her husband, Tom, and son, Peter, encourage and support Vucich in her running career.
“I receive a lot of encouragement. I set a lot of goals and challenges, but my friends are very encouraging and supportive,” Vucich said. “I think I have an inherent drive, but between Tom, Pete, and my brother I receive a lot of encouragement. Tom has never missed a big race. He is always at the top of Heartbreak Hill with a half bottle of flat Coke.”
Training at altitude in the winter for a spring race at sea level is a complicated task which is part of what makes Vucich’s story so impressive. Vail’s winter is very long, so it is hard to run on the pavement when there is a layer of packed snow covering much of the road until late March.
“Well, training for Boston is tricky,” she said. “If you don’t get time on the pavement your body is not ready. What I did this year was I decided to run in Denver.”
Vucich joined a small running group on the Front Range that trains long-distance runners with the most realistic running conditions available including aid stations along their running routes.
Vucich is pleased knowing that she did so well this year and that she accomplished such an amazing task by meeting such a lofty goal set by herself.
“I am really, really happy with this win. I wrote in my journal that I wanted a (time of 3 hours, 30 minutes) and that I wanted to get on the podium.”
Blondie accomplished both of these by running an astonishing 3:30:45 and hopping on the podium at third.
As for next year?
“I haven’t really thought that far ahead,” said the modest runner. “I kind of do it seasonally. My next race is Pikes Peak. My most immediate goal is to now start running trail and set a course record in my new age category.”
Vucich just moved up an age category for Pikes Peak and will look to add to her record book by owning two course records as she holds the course record for her previous age group.
She’s not apparently slowing down.