Dundee Mayor Ted Crawford and Providence Newberg Medical Center nurse Dawn Smith represent the area at the iconic race last week

Despite putting distance running on the back burner while she raised a family, Dawn Smith says she still maintained a “pie in the sky” notion that she would return to qualify for the Boston Marathon by the time she turned 40.

Smith, who competed in high school in Michigan and at George Fox University and is now married to GFU’s head track and field coach John Smith, realized a few years ago that the 2014 Boston Marathon would fall on April 21, her 40th birthday.

That was enough for her to start training to qualify in 2013, which she did by finishing the Eugene Marathon in 3:08.

Smith’s plan was in place before the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon, so it was by coincidence that she was able to participate in the second-largest race field in the event’s history last week. by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Feeling the love - Dundee mayor Ted Crawford poses with staff at Soft Surroundings after competing in the Boston Marathon April 21. Crawford visited the store a day before the race and promised to return with his medal.

Not surprisingly, the experience more than delivered for Smith, who proceeded to qualify for next year’s race by finishing in 3:05.14 to place 19th in her division. “It was amazing,” Smith said. “It was 26 miles of people lining the course just cheering and then even the runners were just supporting each other. It was like no other race I’ve ever done.”

Smith said she felt like she knew what it was like to race in large fields in the past, like the several hundred she was a part of for national cross country meets, but those seem downright quaint in comparison with the nearly 36,000 people that registered for Boston.

But more impressive was the atmosphere and attitude of the city, before, during and after the race.

“It was just a constant celebration of the race itself,” Smith said. “People were thanking you for running it. The city itself, you go to a restaurant or a bar or hotel and people made you feel like a superstar. They really love their marathon and their runners, and they treat you very well.”

Dundee mayor Ted Crawford, who qualified for Boston in 2012, had a similar experience in his first time at the world-famous race.

For instance, when employees at a local shop learned he was participating, they made him promise to return after the race with his medal, which he did.

“It was everything I expected in terms of ‘Boston Strong’ and the atmosphere,” Crawford said. “They said there was one million people cheering the runners on and I don’t doubt it.”

The only unfortunate part for Crawford was catching a cold, which pretty much stopped him dead in his tracks after about 10 miles and made the final 16.1 miles slow going as he finished in 3:41.21.

Still, Crawford said it was almost a surreal experience to be bussed along with about 33,000 runners to a staging area about the size of the Chehalem Valley Middle School grounds. From there, runners proceeded to the starting line in one of four waves of approximately 8,000.

“It was like you were in a river of runners,” Crawford said. “Every time I took a drink at a water station I had to look back over both of my shoulders so that I didn’t throw the cup and hit somebody.”

Despite qualifying for next year, Smith said she isn’t likely to run in Boston next year, preferring to think of it as more of a once-in-a-decade experience as the third week in April is always a busy one for her family.

Crawford, on the other hand, has caught the fever and would like nothing more than to go back again and race while healthy, which is why he’s registered for July’s Eugene Marathon.

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