Column: Basalt’s Ron Lund joins elite 5KSUB3 marathon club
The Aspen Times
Think about this:
Five sub-three-hour marathons.
Five different decades.
Meet Ron Lund of Basalt, one of the premier architects of the modern running scene in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Last weekend, the 59-year-old completed the Mount Charleston Marathon in Las Vegas in 2 hours, 59 minutes, 16.56 seconds.
Remember, he’s 59.
Lund’s time elevated him into an elite running club, the “5KSUB3 Club,” a small, unofficial group of runners who have all run a sub-three-hour marathon in five consecutive decades.
There are about 30 such soulful runners on the membership list, including Olympian Joan Benoit-Samuelson, one of two women in the club.
Lund, who has raced in all 37 Golden Leaf Half-Marathons in Aspen, had learned of the five-decade, five sub-three marathon club back in 2010.
And with a sub three-hour marathon in each of the previous four decades, Lund decided to chase another sub-three to join the club and set a benchmark for his training over an extended competitive career.
After three failed bids, including an agonizing 3:05 marathon, Lund thought his opportunity may have slipped away.
But he kept looking for races.
He discovered the Mount Charleston Marathon in Las Vegas, set for early May.
“Usually late spring is not the best time to run a fast marathon if you train in the (Roaring Fork) valley,” Lund said. “But I felt this course gave me my best chance.”
He trained on a ramped-up program all through the winter, all the while hoping for cool May weather in Las Vegas.
“Everything fell into place, and I was fortunate enough to hit the mark,” Lund said.
Five marathons in under three hours in five consecutive decades.
That takes a lot of steps.
For years, Lund has been running in everything from the Aspen Times 5 back to the Aspen Downtown Mile to the iconic Golden Leaf Half-Marathon. He’s the only runner to have competed in all 37 Golden Leaf races.
He raced at Pikes Peak.
All over the world, in fact.
Lund’s first-decade sub-three came in May 1979 at the Avenue of the Giants Race in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in Northern California (2:43:46).
In the fall of 1987, Lund ran the first of three fast marathons at St. George, Utah.
It started with a 2:34:09, and then he added a 2:35:23 in October 1991.
Then, in October 2007, Lund ran 2:45:36 at Saint George.
That’s four in four decades.
Lund credits his brother for telling him about a runner named Dennis Kurtis at the 2010 Boston Marathon.
Kurtis finished Boston in less than three hours and became the 13th runner to have completed five marathons in that time in five consecutive decades.
“I realized I had a chance to join the club,” Lund said.
His first try of the new decade came at St. George on a fast course he knew very well from nine previous races there.
But the heat soared for the fall race, and Lund finished beyond the three-hour mark.
Nagging injuries that reduced training took 2011 and 2012 off the calendar for marathons.
Lund came back to race in 2013, finishing just 5 seconds off the coveted three-hour mark.
“I knew I needed to train more to run the time I needed,” Lund said.
He trained more.
In the meantime, the list of members in 5KSUB3 grew to 30.
And Lund trained more.
2:59:16.56 at age 59.
Now there’s a new runner in the club: Ron Lund.
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Buttermilk Ski Area already is scheduled to host the world’s best at ESPN’s X Games this coming week, while it was recently announced Aspen Highlands will host alpine skiing’s NorAm finals later this spring.