TEMPLE — Chuck Engle thought about quitting, and not a lot of people could blame him.
After all the 43-year-old from Arlington, Va., didn’t just have to compete against other runners in the Army Marathon, but he faced a morning cold front that dropped temperatures down to the mid-30s by the time he crossed the finish line. Wearing nothing but his footwear, black shorts and a black tank top, Engle remembered that he flew almost 1,800 miles, so what was another 26.2 by foot?
The tenacity paid off as Engle won the marathon with a time of 2 hours, 47 minutes and 1 second on Sunday.
“At Mile 10 I thought about dropping, at 19 I thought about dropping,” Engle said. “Mentally, I’m very fortunate to have pulled it off today. Mentally, I wasn’t prepared for it. I didn’t expect it to get this cold this fast.”
Engle became the event’s new record holder, beating David Shaw’s time of 2:51.22, set during the inaugural marathon in April.
Patrick Geary of Sheridan, Wyo., came in second with a time of 2:40.07, and Pompilio Romero of Waco was third with a time of 3:00.05.
Maria Martinez, of Fort Worth, was the top overall women’s runner with
a time of 3:16.31. Eva Contreras, also of Fort Worth, had the next best women’s time at 3:16.48. Julia Vegas of Buda rounded out the top three with a time of 3:17.54.
Ben Kittinger of Temple won the half-marathon with a time of 1:26.59, Ginger Baldwin took the 5k race with a time of 21:33 and Anthony Radetic won the hand-cycle marathon in 1:47.51.
Engle took an unexpected trip to Killeen this weekend.
He originally intended to compete at the Little Rock Marathon in Arkansas, but did not sign up for the event on time.
But he heard about the Army Marathon and contacted race director Ed Bandas about signing up, and registered for the race late Saturday night.
The short notice meant he had to catch a Friday flight from the nation’s capital to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Jamaica, N.Y., then Atlanta before finally arriving in Austin and getting to Killeen before the 7 a.m. start.
“I said I’m going to do a marathon this weekend if it kills me,” Engle said.
Engle participated in the marathon on only four hours of sleep, but was the first one to break the white tape at the finish line.
Knowing that victory was imminent, Engle used the last of his strength to walk the final few steps before jogging into the warm medical tent where he was wrapped in white blankets, his body shivering uncontrollably from being exposed to the elements.
“I wasn’t prepared for the cold and the winds,” Engle said. “(At the) Niagara Falls International Marathon, (it) was 27 (degrees) and sleet, but I had a jacket on and I was prepared for that.”
Engle has been running competitively for 14 years. After competing in 5k’s and half marathons, he said full marathons were the next logical step.
He now sets his sights on one of the sport’s most prolific races, the Boston Marathon on April 21, Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts.
Engle ran in last year’s race, where two bombs killed three people and injured more than 260.
“It would be an honor for anybody this year to run it, especially those that didn’t complete it last year,” Engle said.
“It’ll be a celebration this year, that’s for sure.”