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Jenna Haglund to run in Boston Marathon

Jenna Haglund to run in Boston Marathon
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City resident Jenna Haglund shows the medal she received after running the 2017 Des Moines Marathon where she completed the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours, 44 minutes and 18 seconds, qualifying her for Monday’s Boston Marathon.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — Remember those Dos Equis beer commercials featuring the Most Interesting Man in the World who (low bass narrator voice) “once ran a marathon because it was on his way”?

Well, Jenna Haglund qualified for the Boston Marathon in part because she had to go out of her way.

“When I would go out on my runs, my route usually took me over the Charley Western Trail Bridge,” Haglund said. “When they closed the bridge, I had to find another route.”
Consequently, the new route added more mileage to Haglund’s runs. Soon, the Charles City woman got to thinking that she may be ready to run full-length marathons again.

A cross country and track runner in high school who continued her athletic career at Augustana College, Haglund began running half-marathons and marathons in her 20s. But after getting married and then raising two children … as well as a trio of cats … Haglund took a substantial hiatus from competing in 26.2-mile races.

But with her trail runs recently increased up to 12 miles, covering nearly half that distance became routine.

With the support of husband Karl, who encouraged her to follow through on her emoted comeback aspirations, Haglund trained for and ran the Des Moines Marathon on Oct. 15, 2017.

In her first marathon back, Haglund ran a division medal-winning time of 3 hours, 44 minutes, 18 seconds.

For the women’s 40-44 age group on the Boston Marathon qualifying chart, Haglund made the cut by 42 seconds.

Since the Des Moines race came late in the marathon season, it wasn’t a qualifier for the 2018 Boston race, but for the 2019 race, which is Monday, April 15 — Patriots’ Day.

Not only will it be Haglund’s first Boston Marathon, it will be her first trip to the northeastern part of the country. Karl and the couple’s son Anders, 14, and daughter Lela, 10, will accompany her.

When training for a 26.2-mile race, Haglund takes a two steps forward, one step back approach.

“When I do five miles one day, I’ll do three miles the next … then seven and then back to five,” Haglund said. “You slowly build up before the race. Usually, your last training run before the race is 20 miles. When I pass that mark during the race, I’m usually thinking ‘I made it past 20 miles … now let’s do this.’ “

The terrorist attack at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon didn’t destroy the event … rather made it stronger as the “Boston Strong” slogan was born and the running community became rejuvenized in a show of solidarity. Runners even became more committed in their goals to qualify for Boston to further show that such acts will not deter their lifestyles.

Iowa runners like Haglund, who often run and train alone, also had to stare down tragedy after University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts disappeared during a jog last summer and later was found murdered. A laborer who illegally emigrated from Mexico was charged with the crime.

“That made me so angry,” Haglund said of the incident that attracted nationwide attention. “How dare he do that to someone doing what she loved to do.”

Haglund, who hates running on a treadmill, wasn’t going to let the murderous act confine her indoors. And she was not the only one.

“After that, people were posting photos on social media of them out running just to show they’re not afraid,” Haglund said.

There are no group running clubs in Charles City, but when Haglund does her road work she often comes across familiar faces.

“I get to see and meet a lot of people I wouldn’t have normally met if I didn’t run,” she said of the local running community. “We’re very supportive of each other.”