Flippin to run Boston Marathon
by Danny Wade
At the age of 39, Guinda Flippin decided to take up running. Fast forward 15 years, she’s now qualified for the largest marathon in the United States.
Flippin will run in the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon next Monday on Patriots Day. Her support group that will accompany her to Bean town will be her husband Floyd, daughter Claire and college friend Diane Smith.
“I was about to turn 40 and wanted to get more exercise,” Flippin said of her decision to get into running. “I had been exercising inside but I wanted to get outside, get some sunshine. I had always enjoyed running.”
She joked and said her passion now for running comes from her brothers. Growing up as the youngest in her family, Flippin was always being chased by her brothers playing football and other games.
To qualify for the Boston Marathon is no easy feat. One must have been running for several years and finish at least one full marathon within a designated time for the age/gender group.
For Flippin, her qualifier was completing the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis with a time of 3 hours, 51 minutes—nine minutes quicker than the four-hour time limit.
Once she met the qualifications, Flippin applied for Boston. She added that just because you qualify, doesn’t mean you are automatically selected to participate. Only 30,000 runners compete each year.
Flippin’s first competition as a runner was in the 2002 West Tennessee Strawberry Festival 5k-10k Run. At that time, Flippin thought she would only run the 5k portion and trained for it. After she hit the 5k marker, she continued in the last half, which she completed.
As she got more into running, she got her son Clint to run too. Clint took to running and soon had the same passion as his mom.
As a student at Humboldt High School, Clint joined the track team as a cross-country runner. Flippin began coaching the team her son was on. She coached him four years and stayed on two more years when daughter Claire joined the team.
“It turned out running wasn’t her cup of tea,” Flippin said of her daughter.
While coaching, Flippin went to a camp in Ashville, Ga. There she learned new techniques, mostly about the proper way to stretch prior to running. Most marathon runners do not stretch at all before the race. Flippin said camp instructors suggested an active stretch such as jumping and high leg lifts.
After Flippin ran her first Strawberry Festival race, she was hooked.
“When I started, it was like an addiction,” Flippin noted. “I ran a race every week. I ran in sleet, once in 17-degrees with the wind-chill of zero (degrees). When it gets hot, it’s a chore. I’ve run in the rain but I don’t like running in thunderstorms.”
Soon she was winning races in her category. Her first half marathon was the Music City Marathon, 13.1 miles. She ran the St. Jude Marathon (half marathon) three times. St. Jude was her only full marathon, but it was good enough to qualify for Boston.
“I needed to increase my mileage,” Flippin said of her training. “I usually run an hour a day, every other day. I started adding five minutes every run. I cross-train on my off days. The most I’ve run is 23 miles in my training.”
The Boston Marathon begins at 8 a.m. with handicap/wheelchair participants. Next are the elite runners competing to win. Flippin’s group’s start time is 10:50 a.m. With 30,000 runners, the start times have to be spread out to keep from bottlenecking down the Boston streets.
The Boston Marathon has its own app that can track up to 10 runners along the route using GPS technology. Flippin said every runner’s bib (number sticker on the runners’ shirts) has a magnetic strip. The strip tracks when the runner crosses the start line and logs the race. There are timing mats along the way as well.
Flippin said she got some good advice from others who have run the Boston Marathon. “Just enjoy it,” Flippin said she was told. “Walk if you need a break.”
Flippin was asked if she would run the Boston Marathon again. She said she just wants to finish this one.
For now, completing 26.2 miles is her goal, a difficult chore for the fittest of runners. But with the support of her family and friends and the thousands of spectators that line the entire marathon route, Flippin will compete in the best known marathon in the United States—a day she will never forget.