Hood finishes marathon under three hours

Apr. 21, 2014 @ 02:58 PM

This felt more like the Boston Marathons Dr. John Hood fondly remembers.
“I’m on cloud nine, just ecstatic,” the Sevierville chiropractor said. “Today’s finish mirrors what I’m used to coming here to Boston. This is why I’m drawn back to coming here. Everybody’s just supportive. … You’re walking along the sidewalk, just congratulations non-stop. People you don’t even know saying ‘Way to go!’ ”
A year after bombs near the finish line killed three and injured 264 others, Hood, 43, said the atmosphere was celebratory down the stretch. He finished the race in two hours, 59 minutes, 24 seconds, nearly two minutes faster than his time last year of 3:01:12 when he finished before the bombs went off.
“I guess words don’t describe the cheers,” Hood said. “You heard a lot of ‘USA! USA!’ along the course. This is an American event and we’re taking control of this one. You heard ‘USA!’ chants the whole way just like it was the Olympics. That was cool.”
Hood said security was tight, with each runner being subjected to a metal-detecting wand. One of his friends who lives near Mile 22 told him vehicles had to be moved a couple miles from the course.
But Hood said the security was appropriate and not overly intrusive. He described the day as “smooth.”
“I think they took the appropriate precautions,” he said. “I felt very safe. There was great crowd support. You always had to show your bib number wherever you went.”
Hood’s time was an improvement on last year but didn’t threaten his personal best of 2:39 in the early 2000s when he was finishing around the top 100. He said he’s OK with that, recognizing he’s now in his 40s and helping out athletes on the Pigeon Forge wrestling and baseball teams has become a higher priority than his own training.
Hood was still able to execute his plan of a strong finish. He clocked his two worst 5-kilometer splits of the day at 21:43 and 21:42 following the race’s midway point before cutting nearly 40 seconds off his finishing pace to cover the race’s final seven kilometers in 30:06.
“Oh buddy, that was my plan,” Hood said. “I wanted to bring it home strong. People said to me before I left, ‘Go for a strong finish.’ Once I crested Heartbreak Hill, I just laid down the hammer. I had plenty to finish on. It felt good.”