Zane MacDonald tested his unusual training regimen in last weekend’s Vancouver Marathon — and finished in a very respectable 3:47:28.

Hope runner finishes Vancouver Marathon under four hours

Zane MacDonald excels in his first marathon with no training

Marathon enthusiasts will listen to this guy and groan. They put in a year of near-daily training, just to have a chance at cracking the four-hour mark… and Zane MacDonald pulls some shorts on and gets a 3:47:28 on his first-ever marathon, the BMO Vancouver Marathon last Sunday.

At least there’s a bit of karma. Coming down from his kitchen on Monday morning, MacDonald took each step one at a time.

“I didn’t really train,” admitted the 24 year-old Hope Secondary grad of 2005.

MacDonald had been up north all winter, clearing trees from pipeline rights of way and when he got back to Hope on March 17, he figured he’d take a week off.

“Then the weather was lousy,” he recalled.

Other than playing a few games for the Hope Choppers soccer team, he was laid-back about the running – though he had to stay in good general shape to pass the fitness test for his summer job of fighting forest fires.

Keeping his 6’1” frame at 170 pounds was a bonus.

“I’m a pretty active guy,” said MacDonald, “but since Christmas, I only ran one 9K and a couple of 4K runs. About a month ago, I figured I’d just try and run it without training.”

Sounds like a plan!

“The last couple of years, I wanted to see if I could do a marathon,” said MacDonald, “then a friend of mine said she was going to go in the half marathon, so I figured I’d just do the whole thing.”

To get a perspective on the distance he covered in Vancouver, 42.2 kilometres is about like running from the Hope Dairy Queen to the Peters Reserve at the west end of Laidlaw – and back.

In less than four hours.

“When you sign up, they ask you where you think you’d finish,” explained MacDonald. “Since I’d never done it before, I wrote down six hours – but that put me in the last group of five groups.

“They fire the gun and the first group goes. It was almost half an hour before I could start and I was passing someone on every stride for the first third of the race. I was weaving in and out of people.”

MacDonald made use of the water and Gatorade that was offered at every kilometre – and the energy bars at the half way point.

“But by the end, I was pretty gassed,” he said. “My second half time was 12 minutes slower than the first half. I had something in my shoe for about half the race but I didn’t want to stop and take it out, because I thought I might not get started again.”

Other than the stiffness, he escaped with no blisters and not much chaffing.

“I intend on doing it again,” said MacDonald, “so if I train for next year, I imagine I’ll have a big improvement.”

When local running fan, Peter Hollmann heard about MacDonald’s feat, his first word was, “Wow!”

“I’ve been trying to beat four hours,” he said. “I ran my first marathon in Abbotsford last year and it was four hours and thirty seconds – then in Victoria, I showed up late and my chip didn’t register, so I just had my watch to go by and it was about four hours again.”

Hollmann, who just turned 44, has been putting in a lot of training since his wife Kim got the whole family hooked on running with the C.E. Barry Team F.I.T. club.

“It’s life-changing,” declared Hollmann, “I started three or four years ago and after a couple of years of running, I’m feeling 10 years younger.”

Fifty-six-year-old Bruce Collins of Hope wasn’t feeling younger as he toiled through his 44th marathon last weekend. He would have been one of the runners that MacDonald passed, though neither of them knew there were two Hopers in the run.

“Every part of me is as stiff as a board today,” he said on Monday from Nanaimo, where he was on a business trip, selling commercial playground equipment.

Collins beat the five-hour mark by about five minutes, but he said, “It was an ugly, ugly result.

“I was hoping for four hours but I had surgery on my knee for a meniscus tear in October and I re-tweaked it a couple of weeks ago. It was bugging me on the run, especially the downhills,” said Collins, who has run marathons in all of the western provinces – as well as the 2007 Boston Marathon.

“Still, it was a beautiful day, a beautiful course and there were lots of good volunteers.”