Brownsville native Alfredo Korzenik will run in the 125th Boston Marathon on Oct. 11, his 21st consecutive appearance in the historic race and an annual tradition he hopes to continue at least until he’s run in 25 consecutive races.
“My big goal this year is to go under three hours,” Korzenik, whose best time is 2:55.14 in 2013, the year of the Boston Marathon bombings, said. That year he finished 840th overall and 60th in his age division.
Korzenik is 56. If he’s able to keep his consecutive race streak going to 25 straight, he’ll achieve life status.
“After 10 in a row they make you a legacy runner. If you get to 25 in a row, they don’t make you qualify any more for the rest of your life,” Korzenik said from Los Angeles, where he’s completing a teaching contract.
A Hanna High School graduate, he has a home in Brownsville and hopes to return here to teach and coach cross country.
This year he had to qualify for the race because there was no Boston Marathon in 2020.
Korzenik qualified in the Tulsa Marathon, one of the few marathons running in a pandemic year. “They barely let me know four weeks ago that they were going to let me in,” he said.
Korzenik said he became attracted to running for health reasons, tried to qualify for the Boston Marathon on his own and finally did so in 2000 after joining a running club in Boston in 1999.
“My dad had a heart condition, he passed away when I was young, and I wanted to do something so I could be fit and take care of my heart, so that was one inspiration. The other one was that once I ran in a marathon I was just fascinated by the challenge a marathon brings,” he said.
“I started comparing it to life’s ups and downs, in a race that’s what you do. You have moments that are easy at first, then you have to work a little harder. Sometimes things start hurting, but you have to overcome that with your thoughts, that’s another thing, and then the third thing is the people, whether it be spectators, volunteers or fellow runners.”
“There’s people from all over the country, all over the world, so that kept me motivated to do marathons. … mostly how it compares to life and life’s challenges. You have to stay focused, and you have to find time to enjoy it, too. At first it’s tough, but once you do all the training they become fun. … There’s so many things about it. I just love to run,” he said.
Korzenik said he trains year-round, but strenuously in the four months preceding a race. Gradually, he lengthens his runs to near the 20.6 miles that constitute a marathon.
“In Brownsville you get excellent training because the heat makes you work harder, but it gets you fitter in my opinion. You’ve just got to hydrate properly and so forth,” he said.
He’s run in marathons in New York City, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Rhode Island among others. In 2016 he ran in the McAllen Marathon, winning his age group and placing fifth overall.
But he says Boston is his favorite because it’s so historic.
“They treat you like a superstar. There’s almost a million fans along the course, which goes through eight different cities and towns. … It’s very exciting when you’re chasing up that last half mile and getting close to the finish line. It is just an amazing feeling.”