Marathon of marathons

For most runners, the Boston Marathon is the be all and end all of road races. For Matt Guzik, it's his April jaunt. Guzik, general manager of the swank new Stock Farm Club near Hamilton, is the top Montana qualifier for Monday's 104th race in Boston. When he finishes, he'll be a third of the way through his quest to run 12 marathons in 12 months.


"Probably. But I've been called worse," the 40-year-old Minneapolis native said with an easy laugh.

Guzik's initial ambition was to complete 12 marathons in 12 months for 12 causes. Stock Farm owners Charles Schwab and Jim Schueler agreed to donate $1,000 to a local charity for each marathon Guzik ran.

That has become "more complicated," Guzik said with relish.

Stock Farm Club members and area businesses have raised the per-race donations to over $2,000 and Guzik's list of recipients is up to at least 15.

Ethyl Keel, manager of the Bitterroot Humane Association animal shelter, said she saw a story about Guzik's marathons in the Ravalli Republic in early February.

"But it didn't specify which organizations would benefit," Keel said. "Then he called after he did a run (at Las Vegas) and said, 'Hey, I've got a check for you.'

"I went, 'What? Oh, OK,' " Keel said. "And he mailed it on down to us."

The local 4-H and the YMCA will each receive $1,000 when Guzik returns from Boston. Last month he presented a check to the local chapter of Special Olympics after completing the Los Angeles Marathon in just over 3 hours, 7 minutes.

Guzik arrived in Montana last April to manage the Stock Farm Club, an 18-hole golf course and swimming/fitness club in the Sapphire Mountain foothills. Its grand opening was in August, so the first full summer of operation is still on the horizon.

"I'm sure my training will change quite a bit in the summer," said Guzik, who runs 35-50 miles a week between marathons. "I'll have to run early in the morning. But the base thing is, I've got a real strong staff here and real strong department heads. I have worked with them for a year now, so I feel very comfortable that if I'm gone for a day or two the ship will stay afloat."

It helps too that his bosses, Schueler and Schwab, are in his corner.

"Matt came up with the idea, and we supported him 100 percent," said Schueler, who is also president of another Guzik backer, Rocky Mountain Log Homes. "We definitely wanted to contribute to some charities in the area, so we thought this was a great way to do it."

Schueler feels certain Guzik will make it to December.

"I've got all kinds of confidence in that," he said. "Matt's like a deer, and he's full of energy. I know he can do it unless he has some kind of physical breakdown."

Few if any people have tried what Guzik is trying.

"They actually say when you finish a marathon you're supposed to take off one week for every mile you ran," Guzik said. "So it's basically half a year before you reload and train for your next one."

He has experience in this kind of thing, however. As a member of a run club in Minneapolis in 1996, he completed the "Trifecta" - three marathons in 30 days. And in October of 1997, Guzik completed what he called "dual marathons." Guzik ran one on a Saturday in St. George, Utah, flew from Las Vegas to Scottsdale, Ariz., for a friend's wedding that night, then caught the red-eye to Minneapolis.

At 7:30 on Sunday morning, he was warming up for the Twin Cities Marathon and proceeded to run faster than he did at St. George the day before.

"I always try to make it interesting, the running aspect," he said.

A marathon is as much about the mind as it is the body, and you can multiply that by a dozen for Guzik.

When he gets to the starting line in Hopkinton, Mass., on Monday, there'll be an ongoing battle against his own competitive juices. Guzik ran the first and third marathons this year in 3 hours, 7 minutes, and he broke three hours in Las Vegas.

"What I've got to learn is to pace myself better, because I'm really racing myself right now," Guzik said. "Those are relatively good times for me, personally, and I just need to enjoy the marathons a little bit more and run them maybe 30 seconds slower per mile. That's the only way I think I'll stay healthy."

He'll tote a small camera at Boston to help record his experience. He's purchased dozens of small pins commemorating Boston 2000 and plans to hand them to children along the way.

Still, Guzik said, the temptation to run faster than he should will be strong. He talked of the deceiving start, where the first six miles are downhill.

"You feel good, your heart rate's down, the adrenaline's flying," he said. "They've got a million people who line the streets from start to finish at Boston, so you've got these people just cheering. You go through Wellsley College, where the girls are just screaming."

Then come the hills and a dose of reality. There are three of them, the third being the infamous Heartbreak Hill some eight miles from the finish line. In his most recent of three Boston Marathons, Guzik conquered Heartbreak in what he thought was fine shape.

"And all of a sudden, within 100 yards of clearing the top, my quads just gave out," he said. "They just went stone hard. I was so disappointed. I think what I had done was I mentally prepared myself to get through Heartbreak Hill but I didn't for anything after that."

Guzik graduated from Saint Mary's College in Minnesota and has managed golf and fitness clubs in Minnesota, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona and Seattle. It was during a seven-year stint at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, a golf club that was also a fitness facility, that the seeds of a running career were planted.

"I thought if I'm going to manage (a fitness center), I'd really better understand it and study it a little bit," Guzik said. "So that's when I got into running."

Boston will be his 23rd marathon since 1994. He said he reached a low point in his running career at the end of 1998, when he did three marathons in the final two or three months.

"I finished up in Seattle in November. It was in the rain and the cold, and I struggled," he recalled. "With that and the new job and moving from there to here, I just took last year off to focus on this place."

But soon he found himself itching for another running challenge. The idea of a dozen marathons in as many months was one he'd hatched several years before.

"I guess I was looking for a reason to run again, so I came up with the idea of associating it with some cause or purpose," he said.

And if he completes his goal of a dozen marathons in a dozen months, what next?

Disney World. No kidding. There's a marathon in Florida each January. Guzik has written to the Disney folks about his latest idea.

"Instead of raising money for it, I'd like to take a needy family from here or the Missoula area and fly them to Disney," he said.

That would make it 13 marathons in 13 months.

"I'd call it a baker's dozen," Guzik said. "Then I think I'd rest after that."

€ Runnin' by the dozen

Matt Guzik's proposed marathon schedule for 2000:

Date Marathon Location Time
Jan. 16 San Diego Carlsbad, Calif. 3:07:04
Feb. 6 Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nev. 2:59:32
March 5 Los Angeles Los Angeles, Calif. 3:07:14
April 17 Boston Boston, Mass.
May 28 Coeur d'Alene Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
June 17 Mayor's Midnight Sun Anchorage, Alaska
July 9 Chronicle San Francisco, Calif.
Aug. 27 Silver State Reno, Nev.
Sept. 17 Montana Billings
Oct. 22 Marine Corps Washington, D.C.
Nov. 26 Seattle Seattle, Wash.
Dec. 10 Honolulu Honolulu, Hawaii

€ Montanans in Boston

A list of the 21 qualifying Montanans entered in Monday's 104th Boston Marathon (BIB numbers are, in general, assigned in order of qualifying time):

Name, hometown Age BIB
Julie Carlson, Billings 30 12041
Lori Christianson, Billings 39 11384
Garth Quade, Billings 35 6121
Robert Parish, Bozeman 23 4120
Bryan Bradshaw, Butte 32 2560
Terry Angell, Colstrip 48 3757
Kathryn Ricardi, Gardiner 44 13482
Nicholas Ricardi, Gardiner 40 4237
Sharon Hlad, Great Falls 30 9634
Matt Guzik, Hamilton 40 2004
Richard DeSimone, Helena 48 7519
Marylis Filipovich, Helena 52 13512
Chris Williams, Kalispell 21 2753
David Houck, Missoula 27 2655
Eric Jones, Missoula 40 7016
Patricia Kent, Missoula 41 8095
Ethel MacDonald, Missoula 62 14362
Mandijane Williams, Missoula 23 11188
Caroline Lansing, West Glacier 34 12517
Richard Menicke, West Glacier 39 2617
Suzanne Hildner, Whitefish 45 14197
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