GRANTS PASS—Bruce Stowell has never been to South Africa.
"At 65 I'm not going to have too many years left when it's possible," he said.
He’s also never run 54 miles.
"Nothing close,” he said. “The longest I've gone, I ran a 31-mile race last summer up at Sun River."
But both will change this June, as the Grants Pass-based runner has qualified to compete in his first Comrades Marathon—the oldest and biggest ultra-marathon in the world.
"The Boston Marathon if you ever get the chance to go, the entire city comes out. In South Africa, the entire country tunes in to Comrades. The event is televised 12 hours live on national TV," Stowell said.
This year’s Comrades Marathon will be the 94th ever.
Around 25,000 runners from all over the world will start a course that spans 87 kilometers and gains 7,000 feet. Only about 10,000 will finish in the 12-hour time limit.
It’s one of running’s greatest spectacles, but Bruce said his joy comes in the months before the race.
"Frankly it's not about the event so much as the process, the training for it, the having something to aim for, the breaking it down to the component parts to get to where you want to be," he said.
Stowell does the bulk of his training in the Cathedral Hills Trail System.
"I've got 12 weeks to go and I'm just going to gradually increase the long run each week up to a maximum of probably about five hours."
It’s a training plan that will get him to a place he’s never been and a distance he’s never run.
"It adds daily spice to the running to have something big to aim for. This is as big as I thought I could manage," he said.