North Bend's marathon man

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NORTH BEND - Not many people would entertain the idea of running a marathon at the age of 27, let alone 67. Nor would they be expected to win their age division by a 30-minute margin the first time on the course. Apparently there aren't too many people like North Bend's Herschel Backues.

Earlier this month Backues toed the starting line of Ellensburg's Yakima River Marathon in his worn pair of running shoes - unlike most serious runners who buy new shoes every 200 miles, Backues only throws them out when they stop feeling comfortable - not knowing what to expect.

"I had not a clue," said Backues. "I'd never run that far in my life."

Neither did his family. Backues said his two sons and nephew, all amateur runners, started a friendly betting pool based on how long it would take him to traverse the 26.2-mile course.

"The quickest time they thought I'd get was 5 hours," said Backues.

So when a sweat-soaked Backues crossed the finish line as the 103rd out of 400 racers at 3:48:36, about 30 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher in the age 65-69 division, even race officials were impressed.

"When I crossed that finish line one of the directors came up to me and said, 'This is your first marathon?'" said Backues. "I said, 'And my last.'"

For the complete story, pick up a copy of this week's Valley Record

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