Tallulah’s McClodden looks to master Boston Marathon

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 16, 2001

[04/16/01] Alfred McClodden ran nearly 40 marathons last year, but Monday’s is the one he’s been dreaming about since he started running.

McClodden, a 33-year-old Tallulah resident, will compete in the Boston Marathon. He won’t come close to winning, but for him competing in the race is enough.

“Everything about Boston is big-time. When you get to Boston, you feel like you’re the best runner in the world, because that’s who’s there,” McClodden said. “And to be from Tallulah, for me, is one of the biggest achievements there is, to say I’m going to run the biggest, oldest and most prestigious marathon in the world.

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“I remember I used to run up and down these highways here and I used to read about Boston. But to be going and actually running is a totally different thing.”

Last year, McClodden ran 36 marathons. The sport got into his blood and he ran one almost every weekend, with the goal of running one marathon in every state.

He qualified for Boston by breaking the 3 hour, 10 minute mark at The Silver State Marathon in Reno, Nev., in August, and has had his sights set on it ever since.

“I didn’t want to do another marathon in Massachusetts but Boston because I knew it was one of the world’s best,” McClodden said. “I’ve run a lot of marathons, but there’s just something about going to Boston that’s unique and prestigious.”

McClodden has backed off his frantic marathoning pace because of several factors, but training is another matter. He has averaged about 100 miles per week, and ran 200 miles in one week in March.

“I was really drained at the end of the week,” he said.

Most of his training has been done on the hills of the Vicksburg National Military Park, something that might give him an edge on the unforgiving hills of the Boston course.

“I think that’s what’ll make me run that race good. I think the hills we have in the park is an advantage. We don’t have those hills in Tallulah,” McClodden said. “If I didn’t have the park over there …. I probably wouldn’t be as good, because flat-land runners struggle on hills.”

That advantage will disappear in a puff of African sneaker smoke, however. The world’s best marathoners hail from the African nations of Kenya, Morocco and Ethiopia.

The last 10 Boston Marathons have been won by Kenyans, and the last three champions and last year’s runner-up, Ethipoian Gezahegne Abera, will all return to compete this year. Abera is considered the favorite.

All of them run nearly an hour faster than McClodden, whose best time is in the 3:05 range. That leaves McClodden shooting for a personal-best time, preferably under three hours, and the satisfaction of running with the best in the world.

“I look forward to running with the best. I’ve run a lot of races all over the country, but Boston is going to be so competitive it’s different from any other. Everybody there is as fast and as good as you,” McClodden said. “You get to measure yourself. You run local races and you do pretty good, you finish pretty high. Then when you go to Boston and you actually see how you measure against the best in the world. If you run a good marathon at Boston, you’re quite a good marathoner.”