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Andy Harris runs Boston

Dad, daughter ready to race

Andy and Clay Harris will run Monday in the Boston Marathon.

Salem, Oregon Statesman Journal
April 20, 2003

When Andy Harris finished 46 minutes behind his daughter in the San Diego Marathon last June, he was happy just to complete the race. After all, he did it so he could say he finished at age 60.

Running in the Boston Marathon was a distant thought.

Now, it's a reality as Harris and his daughter, Clay, will run Monday. There likely will be many relatives among the expected 20,000 runners. But the Harrises are the only family members among the 26 participants who have connections to the Willamette Valley.

However, at least two other Salem families have run at the same Boston Marathon in the past 10 years. Ron and Charlotte Hartwig did it in 1994 and 1996, and Bill and Phyllis McCall accomplished the feat in 2000 and 2001. Phyllis is running this year, but a lingering heel injury has kept Bill from running long distances.

"I wasn't thinking of running another marathon," Andy Harris said. "When we both qualified for Boston, we figured we had to do this. It was something we can't pass up."

Andy Harris, timed in 3 hours, 57 minutes, beat the qualifying mark by three minutes at San Diego. Boston Marathon officials set new standards this year based on age. Andy Harris would not have qualified under the old criteria or if he was 59.

Andy Harris, an ophthalmologist, didn't expect to run another marathon after Portland in 1979.

"I figured I had done that, I don't need to do it again," he said. "When I turned 60 last year, I wanted to prove that I could still run a marathon. It was lots of fun; not only could I do it, but I did something fun with my daughter."

Before San Diego, they ran a marathon in Olympia, Wash., that showed Clay Harris' endurance. She won the women's division by 20 minutes in her first marathon.

Clay Harris, who prefers her middle name to her first name of Debbie, was a three-sport star at South Salem High School in the early 1990s. Now she's 26 and works for a nonprofit organization in Portland.

The pair often run together.

"It's a wonderful time to share," she said. "You can enjoy a common goal and spirit. And you can have one-on-one catch-up time."

But Andy said he does more listening than talking during a 10-mile workout.

"After about half- mile, I'm not talking, just breathing," he said. "She'll talk. That's fine.

"It's all I can do to keep up. It's usually a light workout for her. I'm pushing myself a little above my limit. She's running a bit below her usual workout."

Andy geared up for Boston with a 22-mile run in March, and Clay ran a 50K (31.1 miles) March 22 in Bellingham, Wash.

Andy's goal for Boston is to finish the race and beat four hours. Clay would like to beat the 3:11 she ran in San Diego, where she was 27th among 8,000 women.

Making the trip more comforting for Andy and Clay is the knowledge that friends and family live in the Boston area.

"It's a great treat for me to be able to (participate) with my daughter," Andy said.