While residents of neighboring Mount Hope farms for 30 years, going for a run was the farthest thing on the minds of Steve Mulrooney and Dave Garthwaite.
The pair is making up for lost time.
Mulrooney and Garthwaite, the self-proclaimed “Mount Hope Marathoners,” competed in the 2013 Community First Fox Cities Marathon in Neenah on Sunday, Sept. 22.
Mulrooney, 47, completed the Community First Fox Cities Marathon. Garthwaite, 70, completed the ThedaCare Orthopedics Plus Half Marathon.
“Dave said if I signed up for the Fox Cities Marathon, he would do the half,” Mulrooney said. “Basically, he kind of put his foot in his mouth.”
Mulrooney finished 17th out of 70 runners in his division (3:33:53).
“I did my personal best,” he said. “Anymore, I just want to beat my previous race time.
“That is my goal, is to beat what I did before. My ultimate goal is to qualify for Boston.”
Garthwaite crossed the finish line in 2:30:48.
“I can’t do any bragging, there were only nine half marathoners in my age group and I was eighth,” he said. “The winner, I know him and he has always been good.
“Maybe what I call running might look like slow motion anymore.”
Garthwaite began running competitively in 2003. He completed a marathon in 2011.
“I crossed that off the bucket list and that is done,” he said. I am not going to do that anymore.”
Mulrooney has been running competitively since 2009, when he completed his first Crazylegs Classic in Madison.
“For me, I was kind of inspired by our former cross country coach, Syl Groeschl,” he said. “Just listening to him got me inspired to run some and then I got bit by the marathon bug.”
Groeschl, who has competed in all 23 Fox Cities Marathons, is not sure what he did to inspire Mulrooney.
“I don’t know what I did,” he said. “ I have run a bunch myself and when I met Steve I was dealing with a lot of pain but kept doing the marathons.
“I am addicted to the marathon and always talk about them so maybe that’s what did it.”
Groeschl led the Golden Eagles’ cross country teams in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Among the athletes to benefit from his tutelage was Steve’s daughter, Camille.
“Running a marathon is one of the biggest challenges someone can put in front of themselves,” Groeschl said. “There is a saying out there about marathons, ‘The miracle isn’t that you finished, the miracle is that you had the courage to start.’
“I always hope when I coach kids they walk away wanting to run the rest of their lives. Maybe Steve heard one of my speeches to his kids.”
Mulrooney, who now calls Mount Ida his home, began training for the marathon in late May.
“I think I started May 26,” he said. “It was 16 weeks or 18 weeks, just a program I found on the Internet.
“It is all about building up your miles. I do most of my running on Highway 18 and County Highway K.”
Garthwaite did not have to travel far to attend the marathon. He now lives in Green Bay.
“It is just really neat because Steve can come up and stay at our house and travel for the event,” he said. “It can be a lonely sport if you run all by yourself, but if you have another nut with you, it changes your attitude.”
“We have made it a reunion type of thing, or whatever you want to call it,” Mulrooney added.
The 26.2 mile marathon route started at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in Menasha and made its way through seven Fox Cities communities before finishing at Riverside Park in Neenah.
“The Fox Cities Area is just gorgeous to go through,” Garthwaite said. “Steve would have seen a lot more because he had a longer route, and it is beautiful.”
The half marathon started in front of the Barlow Planetarium on the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley campus.
“It was a nice course and it is relatively flat,” Garthwaite said. “The volunteers make it work, with the water stations and the crossings, plus they take their Sunday off to watch a bunch of nuts run around.”
While Mulrooney and Garthwaite enjoy the camaraderie with their fellow runners, Garthwaite enjoys the health benefit he gains from “running around.”
“My main goal at my age is to keep my weight in check,” he explained. “I don’t have to take any medications, and if I can run around to keep it in check, I can do that.
“There is also a little adrenaline rush when you are in the crowd. You get a little rush and it just feels good.”
What advice does Mulrooney, who completed two marathons in 2012 and plans to have four more under his belt by the time the year ends, have for those who dare put on their running shoes?
“Keep realistic goals,” he said. “Once you start training, it is easy for life to get in the way and it is easy to quit, or it is easy to get sidetracked.”