Olympia teen marathoner thrives on challenge of 26.2 miles

Staff writerMay 16, 2014 


    • Sunday’s starting times: marathon, 7 a.m.; half-marathon, 7:45 a.m.; 5.2-mile race, 8 a.m.
    • Start line: Washington Street between Legion Way and Seventh Avenue, next to Sylvester Park
    • Finish line: Capitol Way between Seventh Avenue and Legion Way, on opposite side of Sylvester Park
    • Last year’s winners: men — Jesse Stevick, 2:32:05; women — Stephanie Kuhn, 3:18:54

One of the youngest runners at the start line of Sunday’s Capital City Marathon has no interest in running cross country or track at Olympia High School, even though he’s in the same building daily as seven-time men’s winner Jesse Stevick, the Bears’ boys cross country and track coach.

John Teters, 17, recently added marathons to his busy list of extracurricular activities, which includes singing in the high school choir and the Olympia Youth Chorus, as well as volunteering with the Olympia Police Explorers program.

Why marathons? He says, why not?

“It’s a ‘go-big-or-go-home’ type of thing,” Teters said.

Sunday, the Olympia High junior will run his second Capital City Marathon and fourth marathon overall. Last year’s Capital City Marathon was Teters’ first. He and Shelton junior Chris Frost, also 17, are the youngest of the roughly 300 marathoners registered.

Teters is a self-taught marathoner, running between 30-40 miles a week on average.

“I fit it into my schedule one way or another,” said Teters, who researches training methods on his own.

Teters boxed when he was younger, and his father, John Teters Sr., said his son has been a strong runner since age 5.

“He’s got the physique of a man, and he’s a big kid,” the elder Teters said of his 6-foot-2, 156-pound son.

Running marathons, however, isn’t high on the to-do list of many teenagers. Teters said he got the urge to try a 26.2-mile course from witnessing his hometown marathon.

Capital City’s course runs right past Teters’ home near Olympia High School, about 2½ miles from the finish line across from Sylvester Park. Watching runners pass through his neighborhood got Teters thinking about doing what he called “more extreme stuff.”

He would have done the marathon at age 15, he said, but the event’s minimum age requirement is 16. His first race was a success, as he finished in 4 hours, 26 minutes, 20 seconds. Since then, he has competed in the Seattle and Portland marathons.

For now, he’s content with running in marathons. He already has his next one scheduled: the Portland Marathon in October. But Teters said he’s always looking for more challenging endeavors.

Are ultramarathons a possibility?

“I thought about doing some of the crazy, longer races,” Teters said. “It sounds appealing to me, and one day that would be cool.”

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473

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