"I am Not a Little Boy!"
Name: Mary Etta (Boitano) Blanchard
Born: March 4, 1963
Occupation: Computer technician
Residence: Sonoma, California
We were a family of seven kids. Dad and Mom both ran marathons, so we ran too. Brother Mike was closest to me in age. I started chasing him at age four. It was fun.
I first did the Dipsea, a handicap trail race, when I was five. My parents entered me as "M. Boitano." I had to wear a cap, because I was supposed to be a little boy. Women couldn't run distance races back then. During the race, someone said, "Look how fast that boy is running." I got upset and took off my cap: "I am not a little boy!"
Mike won the Dipsea in 1971 and 1972 and would have been the first runner to win three years in a row, but I beat him the next year. I still don't think he's forgiven me.
I trained 6 miles a day. The marathon wasn't my best distance, but I did 3:01 at age 10. I won Bay to Breakers three times and ran for San Francisco State. Running provided me with opportunities I never would have had otherwise.
Marriage and two children caused me to pause, but I'm back to 70 miles a week. I do the 10-K in 38-something, not bad for an old lady. My two boys are eight and six. I don't think I'll train them as hard as I trained, but I'm going to encourage them.
My advice to other parents: Support your children. If they want to run, let them. The health benefits are overwhelming. My parents are now in their 80s, still walking and running. They introduced me to the sport, and I love them for that.
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