Local miler lives out dream

Willie Mendoza loves to run.

In fact the 52-year-old Oak Harbor resident enjoys running so much, he jogs over seven miles round trip from his home to work every day.

All the running Mendoza’s done in his life, however, paled in comparison to what he was able to take part in two weeks ago.

He got to live out a dream when he received the opportunity to compete in highly acclaimed Boston Marathon.

“It was great just running in the Boston and knowing that it’s so famous,” Mendoza said.

Although he gained three Boston qualifying times over the last year, Mendoza never would have made the trip, or knew he had earned the right to race , if it wasn’t for a little bit of help.

“I wasn’t even planning on doing it,” he said. “Then last Christmas my daughters and my son in law gave me this (trip) as a present.

I didn’t even know I was qualified—I wasn’t even checking, then I found out my last three marathons were qualifiers.”

Mendoza’s family also attended his big day, while co-workers charted his progress on the Internet.

“They were more excited about it than I was,” he said.

Mendoza didn’t disappoint his supporters. In the field of 20,334 competitors who raced in the 108th Boston Marathon, he finished respectably in the top 60-percentile with a time of 4 hours, 7 minutes and 46 seconds. His time also earned him 828th place in his age division.

“The weather didn’t cooperate,” Mendoza said. “I was told it was the first time it was that hot—for the year anyway.”

Although the 85-degree heat didn’t bode well for Mendoza, who prefers to run in temperatures ranging anywhere from 30 to 50 degrees, he was proud to say he finished the race.

“There was over 1,000 runners who didn’t finish because of the weather,” Mendoza said.

Asked if he will ever make a return to the Boston Marathon, there wasn’t any hesitation.

“I’m planning on doing it again, not this coming year, but in the future because I know I can do better,” he said.

His previous best marathon time was over a half-hour better than his finish in the Boston Marathon, a course he feels isn’t too difficult.

“Compared to the Whidbey Island course and the Seattle course it’s nothing,” he said.

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