“Clearly, dealing with the air quality is going to be a huge factor in winning this race,” said USATF President Bill Roe. “We decided to go ‘outside of the box’ a bit to try and find people who are uniquely qualified to handle the unique respiratory challenges that our runners will face in
Roe said that a qualifying marathon will be held in
However, runners in the qualifying race and in
“Sure, they may weigh 20 pounds, and that might slow our runners down a little bit, but at least we know they’ll finish and not pass out from an asthma attack or lack of oxygen,” Roe said. “Plus, these are tough guys who are used to working 18 hours a day in the harshest conditions known to man. Running for four hours with 20 pounds of equipment is practically a vacation for these guys.”
Roe may be right: already, hundreds of coal miners have signed up to compete in the qualifying marathon. One of them is Doug Miller, who has worked for 18 years in the coal mines outside of Thurman. Even though he has never run a marathon, or a race of any kind, Miller said he is looking forward to the opportunity.
“Today, I woke up at 4 a.m., and was lifting 100 lbs. of coal up a steep, two-mile tunnel for about 16 hours, with a half-hour break for lunch,” Miller said. “The marathon is what, four hours long? Yeah, I’m really, really worried about ‘hitting the wall’ at the 24th mile.”