Melissa Martinez will return to run the Honoring our Heroes Marathon on Nov. 18th in Rolla. While the prospect of running as fast as possible for 26.2 miles may seem daunting to most, for Melissa, it’s just a warm-up activity.

Melissa Martinez will return to run the Honoring our Heroes Marathon on Nov. 18th in Rolla. While the prospect of running as fast as possible for 26.2 miles may seem daunting to most, for Melissa, it’s just a warm-up activity.  On March 25th this year, she ran the Prairie Spirit Trail 100 Miler in Kansas, with a finish time of 23 hours and 56 minutes, qualifying her entry into the Kansas Ultra Runner’s Hall of Fame, and securing her place as a local running legend. Melissa grew up in Waynesville and now lives in Crocker. She has completed the Boston Marathon three times.

Preparing to run 100 miles is no small undertaking. As Melissa racked up the miles, she sought advice from other ultra-marathoners, and learned that it would be wise to have a pacer with her; someone who would run alongside her for a portion of the race offering support and encouragement. Since her 19-year-old son Luke had done the El Paso Marathon with Melissa in Feb., he was a perfect choice to run the last 30 miles.
 
The Prairie Spirit Trail 100 miler takes place in Ottawa on a rails-to-trails track, for fifty miles one direction before turning around, with the finish line where the race started.
“For the first 50 miles, you saw other runners: after that, no one,” Melissa said. For about 12 miles, radio CEO and founder of Spirit FM, Jim McDermott, ran with Melissa. “He is such a dear friend,” she states.  Melissa was covering ground rapidly until about mile 60, then “my feet started swelling and I felt horrible,” she explained. “It took me 10 hours to do the last 30 miles.”

She started to hallucinate at mile 70; she imagined that the ground had turned to lava. Luke was there to coach her back to reality. At mile 99, Luke couldn’t walk any further and laid down at the side of the course, telling his mom, “I can’t feel my legs.” As help was called for Luke, he urged Melissa to go on.

Crossing the finish line alone, Melissa said, “I cried because Luke wasn’t with me.” The event had provided a mother-son bonding experience like no other. Did she lose any toenails?

“I didn’t have any (already lost during training). I had some huge blisters though. It took me 6 weeks to recover.”  Twenty runners started the race, and thirteen finished.

In spite of that experience, or perhaps because of it, Melissa has set her sights on running another 100 miler. “I just don’t know which one yet,” she said. Neither Death Valley’s Badwater or the Western States Run appeal to her.
“It is hard enough to run 100 miles!” Melissa exclaims, “without adding extremes of heat or elevation.”

In the meantime, she’ll run the marathon from Salem to Rolla on November 18. “It’s a good course!” she said. “As you get near Rolla, it’s beautiful,” she adds. “It will be great to go indoors this year at the finish line.” The HeroesMarathon not only offers a full 26.2 mile course, but also a Half Marathon, a Relay (in which a team of three each do a 8-9 mile leg of the route) and a 5K held simultaneously, with all proceeds to benefit local veterans, including Rolla’s Veterans Park and the Mid-MO AUSA Warrior in Need Fund.

Aside from running, Melissa is wife to Chris, mom to Hope and Luke, office manager for her MD father, a certified running coach, and Race Director for the Waynesville Frog Hill Half Marathon and 5K to be held Oct. 6 and 7. “25 percent of the funds raised will go toward the Little Heroes playground in Waynesville, for handicapped children,” Melissa states.  

This past year, she formed the Frog Fitness Group, who meet to train and perform community service as needed.
“We helped clean up after the flood,” she said. Running is her ministry and a way to share the Gospel with others. Accolades for herself are not her goal. Melissa concludes, “To God be the glory.”
 
For more information about the Frog Hill Half Marathon and Leapfrog 5K, visit their website: www.froghillhalf.com.   To learn more about the Honoring our Heroes Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay, and 5K, go to www.heroesmarathon.com or call 573 729-1041. Both Frog Hill and HeroesMarathon are on Facebook. Runners, walkers, volunteers and sponsors are encouraged to participate.