Bittersweet / Holley misses Boston cut, but wins Circular Logic Marathon
SEYMOUR – In the moments immediately following Saturday’s Circular Logic Marathon, Josh Holley was disappointed that he fell a little short of his goal of becoming the third Special Olympics athlete to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
But as the 22-year-old Columbus North graduate began to catch his breath, he was told he had won the 26.2 mile race, which boosted his spirits a few notches.
“It’s really good,” said Holley. “I didn’t even know I won the race. I had no idea. At least I won the marathon.
Holley’s official finish time was 3 hours, 2 minutes, 32.78 seconds. The provisional qualifying standard for the Boston Marathon is 3:00 a.m. for men aged 18 to 34.
Holley, who has high autism I, was on the verge of breaking three hours into the middle of the race. It had been between 6:45 am and 6:55 am for most of his first 14 miles before starting to lose pace a bit.
Bartholomew Brown Jennings (BBJ) Special Olympics coach Andy Hunnicutt cycled to pace Holley, who was averaging about 6:58 per mile.
“It was fun,” Hunnicutt said. “I try to keep him on pace, and he has an internal clock that goes back and forth, and he ran just 7 minutes per mile or just under for 26 miles. On the phone, I have a little app that gives it the beat, so we know we’re running somewhere in that beat from 6:55 a.m. to 7 a.m. He’s not quite on target, but he’s less than three minutes away.
After Holley led the first three of the 26 mile laps around Seymour High School, Joey Zeinner took the lead and held it for about the 20th mile. But Zeinner lost pace and Holley didn’t realize he was the leader when he passed him.
Joey Hibbett was second in 3: 06: 23.69. Zeinner was third in 3: 08: 24.41.
“I could have done better,” said Holley. “I absolutely wanted to stop at 25 miles, but I kept telling myself, ‘No’. I wanted so badly to stop. My IT group was hurting me so much. I was running in total pain.
The marathon was Holley’s fourth in the past two years and the first he has been able to complete without stopping. He was on track to break three hours and qualify for Boston in the 2019 Mill Race Marathon, but had an asthma attack around Mile 23 and, after recovering, finished in about 4.5 hours.
In September, Holley ran at the Fair on the Square Marathon in Danville. He had an asthma attack around Mile 18, but still ran 3:23.
Last month, Holley tried to qualify for the Carmel Marathon again. He dropped his inhaler around the 20th mile, but still set another personal best with a 3:10 finish.
On Saturday he broke his PR again.
“Partly because of Josh’s disabilities, he has a hard time keeping food, so we don’t get enough nutrition,” Hunnicutt said. “Now he drank better today during the race than he ever did, and I was really impressed with that. We didn’t have to stop. He has not had an asthma attack. He just did very well. I am delighted with him.
Next up for Holley, the Special Olympics State Games on June 12 in the state of Indiana. Holley was nominated as a potential contender for the US Special Olympics 2022 in Orlando, and Hunnicutt was nominated as a potential coach. If Holley makes those matches, he will try to qualify for the 2023 World Games in Berlin.
Holley and her recently injured running mate Randall Watts plan to run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in October in Louisville. Circular Logic Marathon Race Director Tara Johnson told Holley after Saturday’s run that the gym she owns, Jordan’s Barbell Club, will sponsor him at next year’s event.
“I will try to continue to qualify,” said Holley. “I’m going to run another marathon, maybe the Indianapolis Marathon. If we list the goals, the first goal would be to qualify for the Boston Marathon. My second goal is to be part of this American team.
But the main focus at the moment for Holley is to graduate from college. He earned associate degrees in Business Management and Business Marketing with honors from Ivy Tech a year ago this week and completed his first 10-week module with Purdue Global.
Holley recently started her second 10-week module with Purdue Global and could graduate as early as June 29. But after taking 24 hours of credit for the first 10 weeks, he plans to take that time a little easier and graduate in the fall.
When he graduates, Holley hopes to open a running store in Franklin. He has his eye on a building next to a bicycle store near Franklin College that is for sale.
“Her brother Kyle (Michaelis) will hopefully help her start the online store for us,” said their mom, Deana Holley. “With (Josh’s) disability he can get certain types of loans. Hope this helps him start his business.