Ron Lund joins prestigious marathon club
Running has always held a large role for Basalt High School cross country coach Ron Lund.
From an early age, Lund would lace up his running shoes and hit the pavement, track and trails looking to get in a good workout. After watching his oldest brother compete in a marathon, Lund was inspired to give it a try.
The 59-year-old completed his first career marathon — the Mission Bay Marathon in San Diego — just a month shy of his 15th birthday. He had attempted one at 13, but dropped out. The thrill of completing his first marathon hooked Lund, who’s been competing in marathons all over the country since.
By getting involved in marathon running, Lund set off on a five-decade trot that he capped off May 7 at the Mount Charleston Marathon just outside of Las Vegas with a sub-3 hour (2:59:15) finish, joining a prestigious club of just 35 people in the world who have completed at least one marathon in less than three hours in five consecutive decades.
Lund’s four others include: 1979’s Avenue of the Giants (2:43:46), 1987’s St. George Marathon (2:34:09),1991’s St. George (2:35:23) and 2007’s St. George (2:45:31).
“At first it was a relief,” Lund said during a recent phone interview. “I was made aware of the list in 2010; I didn’t even know it existed. There’s a lot of people my age that would be at the age where you’d qualify for the list. My brother sent me the list back in 2010, so I knew that if I did it one more time I’d make it. I made my first attempt at it in 2010, so it’s taken six years to accomplish it, but I’m relieved that I did it.”
Outside of the five marathons mentioned previously, Lund has also completed the Boston Marathon twice, finishing under three hours each time (2:38:00 in 1981, and 2:46:00 with his wife in 1994).
Before the turn of the decade, the list of runners who’d accomplished the five-decade feat stood at just 15. It’s more than doubled since then with Lund becoming the latest to add his name to the growing list.
But making the list isn’t the reason Lund keeps coming back for more when it comes to running.
“It’s my sanctuary,” Lund said. “It’s the one thing I can do that doesn’t require a lot of time, effort and money. You just put your shoes on, dress for the weather and go. It’s my time to just contemplate whatever is going on; it gives you time to think. But it’s so second nature to me that it’s relaxing. It’s certainly a stress reliever, and it’s something you can do with other people. There’s a lot of freedom to it.”
His daughter Megan Lund Lizotte added that it’s his “lifelong passion for the sport like nobody has ever seen” that keeps him going.
Growing up in Manhattan Beach, California, Lund and his brothers were heavily involved in running. As a student at Aviation High School, Lund competed in track and field, as well as cross country, which played a big role in preparing him for marathon running.
After spending the early portion of his life in California, Lund moved to Aspen in June 1978 for a summer job. He’s been here ever since. Contrary to popular belief, Lund didn’t stay for the skiing; he prefers the beautiful summers over the sought-after winters full of skiing.
His love for the summers and falls in Colorado are conducive to his running regime, which saw him serve as the founding member of the now-defunct Alpine Christian High School cross country program, before then carrying the program over to Basalt High School in 2004, where he continues to coach to this day with his daughter, Amy Rollins.
Outside of coaching the Longhorns, Lund is a pillar in the running community, serving as the coordinator of the Basalt Half Marathon, which is a direct fundraiser for the high school’s cross country program. The half marathon will hold its 40th annual race Aug. 20.
“When I first got involved with the half marathon, it was a direct beneficiary for the library,” Lund said. “Most of my involvement then was setting the course up, marking the miles and helping with timing. As I became more involved it became a beneficiary for the Lions Club, but then they didn’t want to do it anymore, so I took it over. It’s been the fundraiser for the cross country program for the last eight years.”
Adding to his list of activities in the running community, Lund also competes in the Golden Leaf Half Marathon, which starts in Snowmass and runs directly into the heart of Aspen through trails.
Lund is the only runner to compete in every single Golden Leaf Half Marathon, which started in 1979.
“It’s by far my favorite race,” Lund said. “It’s just absolutely gorgeous. It runs on what they call the Government Trail, and it’s held at the time of year where the scenery is just beautiful. The leaves are turning and it’s just blossomed into one of foremost trail races in the state. I mean, think about it. The race sells out in five hours. They limit it to 1,000 people, and it sells out that fast. The popularity isn’t what keeps me coming back, but I still see people there I haven’t seen in awhile. It’s just a great race.”
Due to running playing such a huge role in his life, the sport has been passed down to his three daughters — Lizotte of La Jolla, California; Rollins; and Whitney Braun. All three daughters competed under Lund before then going on to run in college. Lizotte eventually went on to compete in the Olympic Trials and remains a professional runner today.
“Running has done for us what I hope it has done for any kid that I’ve coached in high school,” Lund said. “I’m providing them with a lifestyle, a sport that they can do for the rest of their lives. It’s obviously not a team sport, but it’s something that I feel is very valuable in staying fit. It lends itself to kind of a clean lifestyle. It’s just an outlet that you can have. To my family in particular, I think it allowed my kids to travel to places they’ve never been before, to compete in some events that others might not ever get the opportunity to compete in.”
With the completion of his sub-3 hour marathons in five consecutive decades, Lund is thinking of taking a step back by not looking too far ahead at trying to achieve the feat of a sub-3 hour marathon in six consecutive decades, which is something that has never been accomplished before. Although Lund and his daughter Megan are thinking about going to run the Boston Marathon next spring, the six-in-six feat is something that Lund hasn’t given much thought to.
“I’m going to hold off on that,” Lund said. “I’ll let you know in four years. Since I’ve turned 50 I’ve had to deal with a lot of injuries, which is why it’s taken me six years to accomplish this one, so I’ll just wait and see in four years. Right now it’s just not on my radar. I plan on getting back on the trails and staying in shape for coaching cross country in the fall.”
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