IRL: Solid Finish in N.Y. Marathon Just Part of Buzz Calkins' Life on the Run

7 November 1998

Buzz Calkins
INDIANAPOLIS - Buzz Calkins has spent the last few months on the run, literally and figuratively.

Calkins has juggled his career as a Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver with a full schedule of graduate-level courses at Northwestern University. And he also trained diligently for the New York City Marathon, which he finished Nov. 1.

"If you just get your priorities straight and manage your time, it's not a big deal at all," Calkins said of his busy schedule.

Finishing the 26.2-mile New York City Marathon, which snakes through all five boroughs of the city, was a big deal for Calkins. He achieved one of his lifelong goals by officially finishing in four hours, six minutes and 13 seconds. Calkins' actual time was about 4 hours and two minutes, as it took him about four minutes to cross the starting line at the base of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island due to the sheer size of the 31,000-runner field.

While many runners simply want to finish their first marathon, leave it to a race driver to set higher goals. Calkins wanted to finish in less than four hours, falling just shy.

Still, his average pace was about nine minutes, 15 seconds per mile. Not too shabby. After all, the race's length equals 10 trips around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"I'm a little disappointed," Calkins said of just missing his goal. "But I guess that means I might have to do it again. I'm feeling all right, actually. But I'm glad it was over."

"If I just went out and was trying to finish, I think it would have been no problem. But I was trying to keep that pace."

Sounds quite a bit like auto racing. In fact, Calkins drew many parallels between training and racing on foot and testing and racing in his Bradley Food Marts/Sav-O-Mat Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear in the Pep Boys IRL.

Calkins said his heart rate for the marathon averaged about 150 to 160 beats per minute, about the same rate as during the Indianapolis 500. The average adult heart rate ranges from 60 to 80 beats per minute. It took Calkins slightly more than four hours to finish in New York, while this year's Indianapolis 500 lasted three hours, 26 minutes.

"They kind of compliment each other," Calkins said of running and auto racing. "I was training for racing anyway, so why not do the marathon?"

Calkins runs four to five miles per day to stay in shape for racing. He increased his mileage to prepare for the marathon, including a 22-mile training jaunt two weeks before the race.

Calkins first entered the New York City Marathon in 1996 but didn't race due to painful shin splints. He re-entered in 1997 but also didn't race because of injuries suffered in a testing accident at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Finally, everything fell into place this year. But finishing the race wasn't easy.

Calkins said his training on the flatlands near his Denver home and near school in Chicago didn't quite prepare him for the deceptively hilly course in New York. Some of the steepest grades come when competitors cross the five bridges used on the course. The course climbs 163 feet as it climbs the Queensboro Bridge between Queens and Manhattan at around the 15- mile mark.

"Running up that was when my legs fried, at mile 16," Calkins said. "After that, my legs seized.

"But it was fun. It was interesting."

So is Calkins' course load at the prestigious Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, located in Chicago. He is studying for his master's degree in business administration, concentrating in finance, management and strategy. He started the 2-year program this fall.

Calkins and the Bradley Motorsports team plan to participate in the Pep Boys IRL Open Test Dec. 11-12 at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla., preparing its Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear for the season-opening Indy 200 on Jan. 24 at the track. Calkins won that event in 1996, the inaugural IRL race.

The Bradley team may start its offseason testing at Phoenix International Raceway a week or two before the Orlando test, Calkins said.

Editors Note: The images displayed in this article (plus many more) can be viewed in The Racing ImageGalleries and the Visions of Speed Art Gallery.

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