Steamboat man finds unique way to endure marathon

Picking leads local finishes, qualifies for Boston

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— Andy Picking built a beautiful log home Sunday morning.

For 26.2 miles, the 30-year old from Steamboat Springs constructed a new house to pass the time spent on the Steamboat Marathon course.

He builds homes for a living so it seemed like the natural thing to think about.

But it wasn't the only thing. For the past several months, Picking has run approximately 35 miles a week he prefers to run alone targeting 3:10 as his marathon finish time.

On Sunday he glanced down at his watch to see he was right around 3:08. He kicked it in down the homestretch and was greeted with a glowing green 3:09:28 to achieve his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon next April.

"I'm so happy," he said. "I just wanted to beat 3:10. The conditions were perfect. It got a little hot, but it was a great day for a run."

Picking's wife Lynn welcomed him at the finish area with a hug, a kiss and an expression of surprise. She knew Picking was shooting for Beantown but said she wasn't sure if he could cut roughly 18 minutes off his personal-best time to qualify.

Picking has only run two marathons in his life and both were in Steamboat Springs. One was Sunday, so qualifying for the prestigious and world famous Boston Marathon was quite a goal and quite an accomplishment.

Picking originally hails from Johnstown, Penn., in the western portion of the state but has lived in Steamboat for the past three years. He finished seventh overall, and while Dennis Collins was the first man from Steamboat Springs to finish the marathon, he isn't a full-time resident, making Picking the first local man to complete the grueling 26.2-mile course.

"I like the mental game of running a marathon," he said. "I just get amped."

Picking said he doesn't plan on changing his approach to training at all now that he's headed to the Boston Marathon.

He has never run such a distance at sea level before and Bart Yasso, Race and Event Promotion Director for Runner's World, said Picking in his for quite a treat out east.

"He's going to feel like he's flying," Yasso, who has run in events around the world, said. "The first time down there he'll notice that his mile splits are faster and the famous Heartbreak Hill at mile 20 is going to feel like nothing to him."

Yasso noted the significance of posting a qualifying time in Steamboat.

He said Sunday's heat, mixed with the varying elevation changes out on the road, made Picking's achievement that much more impressive.

"I run for myself and do it to challenge myself," Picking said. "If I set a goal, I run against that goal. The first 13 miles here are the easiest.

"The final 13, you just try to survive."

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