Andre Schwering has competed in events in Boston, Berlin and Chicago
By Pat Payton
It’s three down and three to go for Andre Schwering.
The 54-year-old Rannoch area resident has run in three of the six World Marathon Majors. They’re considered the top six events on the globe. He has run the Boston, Chicago and Berlin marathons, while events in Tokyo, London and New York are still on his wish list.
“That is my goal now to run in the six Majors,” he told the Independent in a recent interview. He ran the Boston marathon in 2017, Chicago in 2018 and Berlin last October.
He says that his “toughest” marathon to date was in Germany last fall.
“A friend of mine from Toronto, she wanted to qualify for Boston (in Berlin),” he said. “We started together and we ran about 10 to 15 kilometres together. I had a little bit of a back problem and my knee started acting up, so I told her to keep going. I backed off and told her I would follow her.
“It was a difficult run for me with a sore back and a sore knee. I was really glad when that one was over.”
Started distance running in 2013
After a friendly challenge from family members, Schwering started distance running and training to complete a marathon (26.2 miles or 42.2 k.m.) in February, 2013. He started running inside at the Rotary complex in Stratford, and then entered his first race — a 10-k.m. event in Mississauga.
He competed in his first marathon the following fall in Erie, Pennsylvania.
“I didn’t have enough training, but I did it and I enjoyed it,” he recalled. “I talked to other runners and I wanted to have a goal. They were talking about running Boston, and Boston is where runners want to go. It became a goal and I wanted to train for Boston.”
That race through the streets of Boston has been held since 1897. It’s traditionally held on Patriots’ Day, the third Monday of April.
Great atmosphere in Boston
Schwering qualified for the Boston Marathon in New Orleans in 2016. His time was three hours, 27:31 minutes. It was good enough to get him in the world famous Boston race the following spring.
Schwering said the atmosphere at the 121st Boston marathon was “so great,” with thousands of runners taking part and thousands more lining the city streets. All runners have to qualify for the race, which attracts an average of 30,000 registered participants each spring. He also noted that it cost him $345 Canadian to just enter the Boston race.
“When I qualified for Boston, friends asked me ‘if I was going to run it or race it,'” he said. “I told them that I wanted to race it, but that I also wanted to enjoy it.”
His time over the famous course was three hours, 53:45 minutes. About 20.5 miles into the Boston marathon, runners reach the legendary ‘Heartbreak Hill.’ It’s a half-mile incline and becomes the toughest stretch on the course.
“I didn’t find it too bad,” he said. “But I was just running the race and enjoying it. With all the people around, it’s just a sensation in itself. It was my first big marathon and it was a little overwhelming.
“I was running with my camera (phone), and once in a while I would snap a picture. Normally I wouldn’t do that, but you don’t know if you’ll ever be back there again. Maybe in the future, I would like to do Boston again. I’ll have to qualify again, and it’s not easy. Yes, I would consider running it again.”
12 marathons to date
Andre Schwering has entered a total of 12 marathons to date and finished them in under four hours. “My goal is to always finish,” he says.
He ran in just one event in 2014, but entered two marathons every year for the next five years. When he is training for a marathon, he runs five or six days a week.
Due to Covid-19, there have been no marathons run in 2020. He signed up for a marathon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in April of this year, but was unable to go. “Instead of running it in the States, I ran from St. Marys to London,” he said. “They said they would send my bib number and a medal. If I get a medal, I also want to run the distance.”
Schwering admits that he may not run in another large marathon until the current pandemic is under control.
“I’d like to stay away from the big gatherings, the races with 20,000 or 30,000 people,” he points out. “I would not feel comfortable yet. If there is a vaccine, maybe that’s different. I’m hoping that it all clears up a little bit.”
He says runners receive a “special medal” if they complete the six Major Marathons in the world. “They call you a six-star finisher and that is my goal,” he says.
Schwering also competes in 5 k.m., 10 k.m. and half-marathons in Ontario. He has competed in the 30-k.m. race in Hamilton about five times as well. Called ‘Around the Bay,’ it’s held at the end of March every year. He has also entered the River Road Run from St. Marys to Rannoch and back three or four times.
“I like to support the local races, too,” he says.
–Andre Schwering runs with the New Balance group in London. He says it’s beneficial to train with a group of runners who push each other. They train three times a week, and he makes “about 70 percent” of their workouts. He also runs in St. Marys and area.
–Schwering is a dairy/cash crop manager at a farm near Rannoch. He and his wife Grietje, both natives of Holland, moved to Canada in 1992.
–Grietje keeps a scrapbook on all of her husband’s races.
–You can follow Andre’s running adventures on Instagram @andreisrunning.