By NICK CARROLL
SHORT GAP - On the morning of the 2018 Boston Marathon, Woody Snoberger woke up and was greeted by nasty weather as he prepared to compete in the oldest annual marathon in the world. "You could see the flags blowing, you could see the sheets of rain pouring, and I thought to myself this is going to be miserable," said Snoberger. However Woody's misery morphed into triumph after running 26.2 miles in a time of 2:37:11 and crossing the finish line 86th place overall out of 25,746 competitors, to accomplish his goal of a top 100 finish.
Before the race began, Woody consulted with his coach Mike Spinnler of the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club about how to approach the race given the horrible conditions. Snoberger explained, "Because of the headwinds and nonstop rain, we decided to throw away the time goal of running the race under 2:30, and decided to go for Top 100 instead." Woody talked about the strategy he used to finish the race in the Top 100, "Coach Spinnler told me what I should do is find a group, run with a group for a little bit and shield myself from the wind as much as I can. When I feel the group is going too slow, point out a group ahead and surge, catch up to that group as quick as I can, and basically leapfrog. So I would go out, move on, pass a bunch of people, come up, draft a little bit, then when they moved too slow, jump out again. I just repeated the process for the first 20-22 miles."
The best part of Woody's 42.2 kilometer journey happened with about 5k to go. "There were spectators lined up everywhere and with the rain it was hard to see, but then I finally saw Mike and he was shouting, '101...101!' and it gave me goosebumps. Honestly it still gives me goosebumps thinking about that moment." Knowing he was on the brink of accomplishing his goal Snoberger was rejuvenated and immediately passed five runners to put himself in the top 100. "As soon as I got in the Top 100 I just made sure that I passed more people, than people pass me for the last 3 miles." As Snoberger crossed the finish line he gave a subtle fist pump as he knew he accomplished his goal. Woody talked about how he felt crossing the finish line, "I passed about three people right at the line, and I knew I was top 100, and I've done what I came to do. It was kind of shock as they gave me the medal and a space blanket to wrap me up. It didn't really hit me until I grabbed my clothes and I saw my phone for the first time to find out what place I got officially."
The journey across the Boston Marathon finish line for Snoberger began in 1999 as a freshman in high school when he first started running long distance. Now nineteen years later, Woody is a husband, father of two children, a math teacher at Frankfort, and a track coach for the Falcons. While juggling a full schedule Snoberger committed himself to a grueling and intense training regiment to prepare for his third Boston Marathon, logging over 120 miles per week. After years of hard work combined with a commitment to his craft, Woody was emotional once he finally sat back and realized he accomplished his top 100 goal, "I was holding back tears, I could feel myself welling up a few times and all of these messages on my phone, from my close friends, my training partners, Coach Jaron Hawkins saying how I ran a great race, and everything else, it was just a sense of pride." Woody mentioned Jaron Hawkins who hails from Frostburg and coaches the Northern Garrett track team as an important influence. Hawkins ran a time of 2:27:56 at the 2008 Boston Marathon and he passed along his wisdom to help Snoberger train and compete at an elite level.
Finishing the Boston Marathon in 86th place does have its perks. After the race Woody was joined by his running team and they celebrated at a little bar called Bill's Pizza outside the town of Hopkinton (starting point of Boston Marathon). As word spread across the restaurant of Snoberger's remarkable achievement, the owner of Bill's Pizza introduced himself, shook hands with Woody, then shouted out words traditionally reserved for Boston Celtic celebrities and Red Sox royalties, "Food and Drinks on the house for this man!" What a memorable experience and an excellent reward in honor of an amazing athletic accomplishment.
So whats next for Woody? "Well the next big race for me is the New York City Marathon in November." said Snoberger. After finishing in the Top 100 in the most famous marathon in the world Woody will test his endurance in the largest marathon in the world (51,394 finishers in 2016). Certainly Frankfort Falcon fans and the people of Mineral County look forward to Woody's next challenge and his quest to take a bite out of the big apple.