Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat Springs resident Ian Mallams races toward the finish line at the Steamboat Marathon. Mallams placed third.
Steamboat Springs The experts say it takes a bare minimum of three months.
They also say the Steamboat Marathon's deceptively difficult 26.2 miles can wreak havoc on newcomers.
But someone forgot to tell those things to 18-year-old Steamboat Springs resident Ian Mallams.
Mallams, running in his first marathon, finished third in the 315-runner field of last weekend's race.
"I was really excited about it," Mallams said. "I wasn't really planning to be quite that far up, but I had a good day. It felt really good."
The Whitefish, Mont., native spent one month preparing for the marathon but didn't enter that training regimen new to running or endurance sports. Mallams moved to Steamboat after finishing high school in Montana, hoping to gain in-state status before attending the University of Colorado.
He was a successful cross-country and track runner in high school but began to focus on cross-country skiing when he landed in Steamboat.
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Travis Jones was a big part of what drew Mallams to Steamboat, he said.
He's now planning on carrying on his skiing career at CU.
Jones "said I should take a year off and focus a lot more on the ski training to see if I could improve my results and get a good jump on college training," Mallams said. "It was a great year. I really learned a lot."
But he didn't learn to run marathons. He said ski training often included several hours of running, but he never focused on ramping up his distances, as is advised for those planning on tackling the mammoth race.
That didn't seem to make much difference last weekend.
Mallams broke free from the main pack early on and was one of three or four runners who stayed grouped together through the course's first few miles. After ditching that group, he ran in second place for the middle part of the race, only slipping behind Craig's Todd Trapp at about the 18-mile mark.
Without having ever raced the entire length of the course, he was left with only advice from friends as how to best tackle it.
"I heard a lot about the downhill and how if you run it faster, you'll build up more lactate and you will get a lot slower at the end," Mallams said. "A lot of guys asked if I'd done long enough runs or runs of a certain pace. I was given a lot of different opinions, so I wasn't sure what to expect."
What he got was a spot on the podium. Finishing in 2 hours, 45 minutes and 3 seconds, he was nine minutes behind leader Jason Saitta and four behind Trapp, but nine minutes ahead of the fourth-place finisher.
Although he still plans to focus on cross-country skiing, he said he also came away with a little different attitude toward marathons.
"I might do some more running events now," Mallams said. "I might go somewhere else, and I'll probably try to run another one next May or June.
"If I have another good race, I could definitely look into running a lot more and training for those."