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Terris pulls off a difficult double in Boston

The Gresham graduate completes marathons on back-to-back days
by: David Terris, Gresham graduate Wendy Terris runs through the fog during a recent marathon in Vancouver. She has completed 47 of the long-distance events.

Wendy Terris needed six hours before she finally hit the finish line at the Boston Marathon last week. That time would be considered pretty slow if you're only running one race, but Terris spent six hours pounding the pavement in back-to-back marathons, going more than 52 miles in two days.

Terris, a Gresham High School graduate, competed in the U.S. Women's Olympic Marathon Trials in Boston on Sunday, April 20, and the next day at the 112th running of the Boston Marathon.

'I never thought it was odd, but a lot of people started calling me about it,' Terris explained last week, a few days after returning from the East Coast.

Odd or not, she was the only one out of 125 women who ran in the trials to turn around and run the next day. And run well. She clocked a time of 2:55:28 on the modified, loop-style course designed for the Olympic trials, and a 3:03:18 in the notoriously hilly Boston Marathon.

'I'm never going to be fast enough to make the [Olympic] team,' Terris said. (Top qualifier Deena Kastor ran under 2:30) 'So it's cool that I got some press for being crazy.'

Terris said she's never failed to complete any of the 47 marathons she ran before Boston, so she was confident she could pull off the 'double.' But there were challenges. Terris said she struggled when she hit Boston's trademark hills around mile 17, but credited the crowd with keeping her spirits up. There were reports that the crowds at the women's trials far outweighed the crowds at the men's marathon trials, held in November before the New York City Marathon.

'The crowds were excellent both days,' she said. 'It was kind of neat to get the perspective from both races, it was nice having different crowds.'

Taking another crack at Boston amounted to a sort of redemption for Terris. She ran the race once before in 2000, and said it was one of her worst marathon performances. She also sprained her ankle during the 2004 Olympic trials in St. Louis, and finished slower than she anticipated.

While Terris couldn't keep pace with the fastest women in America during the trials, she has been among the fastest women in the Portland area at the marathon distance. She is currently the two-time defending champ of the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon on Sauvie Island, where last year she beat the rest of the women's field by nearly 20 minutes, and finished fifth overall.

Will there be another double in Terris's future?

She didn't rule one out, though she said the logistics of traveling might make it impossible. It's rare to find two marathons in the same area on the same weekend. The Olympic trials presented a unique opportunity because the race coincides with a major marathon like Boston or New York, but is run the day before.

But there could be longer single-day jaunts in her future. Already, Terris has dabbled in different distances. She's run five 50-kilometer races and a 50 miler. At 38 she said running longer distances is 'on my mind, because I'm probably not going to get much faster.'

Terris grew up in Gresham and went to Mount Hood Community College before running at Willamette University. She belongs to the Red Lizard Running Club, a popular area group whose jersey she wore during the trials. She lives in Milwaukie with her husband Evan, who also ran Boston, and her 3-year old son Sebastian.