There’s a long road ahead for Dr. Fares Khater — 26.2 miles, to be exact.
Khater, an infectious disease specialist at Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation’s Whitesburg Clinic, has qualified for the Boston Marathon.
Khater will be one of an estimated 30,000 people who qualified for the Boston run, the oldest and most famous marathon in the world.
Runners can’t just pay a fee and sign up for the marathon — they have to qualify.
“You have to run in another race that is approved by the Boston Athletic Association,” Khater said.
He qualified in Duluth, Minn., last year. Despite the name of that race — the Grandma’s Marathon — it’s no walk in the park. Since it’s a marathon, it has to be 26.2 miles long, and Khater had to beat the Boston Marathon’s time requirement for his age group, in this case three hours and 25 minutes. Khater finished in 3:14:29 to gain entry into the 45-49 category.
So how often does Khater run to train for marathons?
“Oh, all the time,” he said. “I almost run six days a week.”
And how far?
“Six to ten miles.”
Khater said he started running about 19 years ago when he was a resident at Vanderbilt Hospital, and ran in the Mountain Heritage 5K a month after he moved to Whitesburg in 2003. He stuck to 5K and 10K races until a few years ago.
“I started running marathons three years ago, and I started getting faster and faster,” Khater said.
The father of two sets of twins, Khater said the kids aren’t much interested in racing, but the oldest two, age 7, are beginning to warm up to it.
“I did run a 5K in Pikeville March 17 with my oldest two, and they finished,” he said.
The Boston Marathon is the biggest race he’s run in, and bills itself as the oldest and most prestigious marathon in the world.
The race has been held every year since 1897 and has never been canceled — not even during the World Wars. It was cut short in 2013, three hours after the first runner crossed the finish line, after terrorists set off a bomb that killed three people and injured more than 260. Some runners were still on the course when it was stopped.
Khater said the 2013 tragedy doesn’t worry him.
“The security is awesome,” he said.
The race will be held April 15, the third Monday of the month, to correspond with the Massachusetts state holiday of Patriots’ Day. The race will begin in the town of Hopkinton in southern Middlesex County, and end at Copley Square in Boston.