Local pair finish well in first attempts at Boston Marathon

Bradley Prather, of Roanoke (left) and Dan Meyer, of Huntington, celebrate after crossing the finish line at the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Bradley Prather, of Roanoke (left) and Dan Meyer, of Huntington, celebrate after crossing the finish line at the 2014 Boston Marathon. Photo provided.

Running a race in which you finish 1,153rd and 3,250th is not too shabby of a feat, when you consider the two long-distance runners were competing against about 36,000 challengers in this year's Boston Marathon.

The two men - Bradley Prather, of Roanoke, and Dan Meyer, of Huntington - both logged personal best finishes in the 26-mile race. They were the only two Huntington County residents who competed in this year's marathon.

Prather, 42, who finished in the top 4 percent of the group at 1,153rd, ran an official time of 2 hours, 52 minutes and 13 seconds. Meyer, 54, finished in the top 10 percent at 3,250th with an official time of 3 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds.

"For me, and I think for Dan as well, I think our races went about as perfect as they could have gone," Prather says. "For me it's a personal best by almost 6 minutes."
Meyer says it was the first time that both men, who are running buddies in the Men in Black Running Club, tackled the famous race.

"If you're a distance runner, you want to do Boston," he says. "It's like the World Series and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. It's the oldest and most prestigious marathon in the world, and not everybody gets to do it. You have to qualify to do it and you've got to be a pretty solid runner just to qualify."

Meyer says the atmosphere during this month's marathon was electric, Boston's answer to the double bombing tragedy during last year's race, in which three people were killed and more than 260 were injured. Meyer found the crowd to be inspiring.

"It was just amazing. You could just feel the city buzzing," he says. "There was just such a vibe. They had twice as many spectators as they normally would have. They estimated a million people along the course and everybody was cheering and yelling and holding up signs. If you had a name on your jersey they were calling your name. It just really helped pull you along. I had a smile on my face for most of the race."

Prather says despite last year's tragedy, he had no reservations about the safety of the runners.

"I knew that the security was going to be top-notch, and it was. But it wasn't intrusive. We didn't have to wait in any extra lines; we didn't have to do anything special. Everything went very smoothly," he says. "About the only thing you noticed was that there were a lot of officers and a lot of dogs around. Other than that, I'm sure it was all very secure but it was more behind the scenes."

Meyer and Prather had their own cheering section attend the race; Meyer's wife came along as well as Prather's wife, one of his sons, his mother, stepfather, sister and niece.

"We didn't know exactly where they were going to be or if they would see me," Prather recalls, "But everything worked out and we saw them at a couple of different spots."

Meyer began long-distance running when he was in high school, but picked it back up again and ran his first marathon at age 49. Boston is his sixth marathon and he says it's the best by far. Prather has been running for about seven years, when his oldest son joined the cross-country team in sixth grade. He and his wife joined in, running in 5K road races.

"I just decided I liked running," he recalls. "For the first several years I wasn't that serious about it; I just did it to have fun. Then a few years ago I started thinking, ‘You know, I'm pretty good at this. Maybe I should get a little more serious about it.'"

However, the Boston Marathon may only be a one-time experience for the runners. Meyer and Prather say they will likely not run the race again next year.

"With the winter that we had, the training is really hard for a marathon because the program is long and difficult and requires a lot of time," Meyer says. "We really paid the price this year to be able to train for the marathon, without a doubt. ... I'm not sure I want to train through the winter like I did this winter."

However, both were decidedly happy with their finishes in this, their first attempt at the Super Bowl of marathons.

"I don't know if I can top this weekend," Prather adds. "I ran the race about as well as I could run. For me, I don't know that I could top the experience."

Complete caption: Bradley Prather, of Roanoke (left) and Dan Meyer, of Huntington, celebrate after crossing the finish line at the 2014 Boston Marathon. They were the only Huntington County residents who took part in the 26-mile race on Monday, April 21. The two men, members of the Men in Black Running Club, both achieved personal best times, finishing 1,153 and 3,250 respectively among about 36,000 runners. Prather and Meyer received commemorative medallions for crossing the finish line.