By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Sunday morning, Eddie Martin will be one of 1,300 people running the Orca Half in West Seattle.
The 16-year West Seattle resident is also on the brink of joining an elite group of runners with a unique status: Running all six of the World Marathon Majors.
This November, he will run the New York City Marathon. That’s a story all its own – but let’s go back to the starting line.
He ran his first marathon in 2003, in Victoria, B.C. Before that, he had been an avid jogger, at most. The year he went to Chicago, 2006, is when the World Marathon Majors were announced. “I thought that would be a great lifelong goal to set for myself.” In Chicago, he ran a fast-enough time to qualify for Boston (keep in mind, these races aren’t like a local 5K, where you pay your entry fee and you’re in; they’re selective and highly popular), so he took advantage of that by running in Boston in 2007. Extra-memorable, he recalls, because “there was a big nor’easter that year, a huge storm that almost canceled the marathon.”
The year after that, Martin traveled to China for a 30K trail race; he mentions that running is a great excuse to travel, and these days he takes his wife and their two kids. “I do the race, andthenn we sightsee.”
After that, his Majors goal was on the back burner until he ran in Berlin in 2012, when his oldest daughter was a toddler. He explains that each of the World Majors has distinctive sights and features – “a feast for the senses” – and Berlin is no exception – toward the end, runners go through the historic Brandenburg Gate, with “a roaring crowd” cheering them on.
That’s about when the marathons became harder to enter, with lotteries determining participation in some cases, Eddie explains. “In 2015, I applied for Tokyo and got in.” By then, he and his wife had two daughters, and both accompanied them to Japan, along with Eddie’s mom and stepfather. The marathon there had its own ambience, including many costumed runners, he reminisces.
By that point, “the goal of completing (the Majors) was in sight,” with New York and London remaining, he two hardest to get into, so he started applying for both each year. This year, he got into London, so that meant “super-intense training,” and another big family trip, with a special side journey into Scotland, where his wife has many relatives.
Life got busier and he decided against applying for this year’s New York Marathon. But then he got email from the Majors organization, recognizing that he was one marathon shy of something only a few thousand people worldwide have accomplished, and asking if he would like to enter a contest for a free entry. He said yes.
Six winners were chosen from around the world. One of them dropped out – and he, as the runner-up, got the spot. So he, his wife, their daughters (now 5 and 8), and mom and stepdad will travel to New York for the November 3rd race.
Now, a “13-year dream” is in view. “I’m beyond thrilled … it’ll be overwhelming.” He’s looking forward to receiving a special medal awarded to those who’ve completed all six World Majors.
He’s excited about sharing the experience with his family, especially his daughters, “who’ve gone on hundreds of runs with me,” in a double stroller until they outgrew it – you might have seen them in Lincoln Park, in Schmitz Park, along Alki. Though his love of running does not date all the way back to childhood – he didn’t even start jogging until adulthood – he hopes to inspire his daughters to have a healthy level of activity in their lives.
“Healthy” plays into another aspect of Eddie’s life. He is a manager with a company whose products save lives – automatic external defibrillators. And his work hit home this summer when one helped save the life of a dear friend; a combination, actually, of a nurse who was nearby when it happened, and the defibrillator. His friend’s close call happened shortly after he got the news about winning the New York City Marathon contest. He’s decided to pay his good fortune forward by donating an AED, on behalf of his friend and his rescuer. When we spoke recently, he hadn’t decided yet where the donated AED would be placed, but he hopes to find “somewhere that it’ll do the most good.”
First, he’s going to see his friend – who lives in Kitsap County and is “doing great” – right after tomorrow’s Orca Half. He’s going to meet the heroic neighbor, too. Then it’ll be just one month until the big trip to New York City, and the completion of a longheld goal. He hopes that can inspire others to set goals, too.