GREENVILLE — Probably one of the most die-hard marathon runners in Darke County has qualified for the Boston Marathon once again.
Richard Barton will be competing April 18 in the 120th annual Boston Marathon as will his wife, Crystal, who also qualified. It’s his 12th and her eighth marathon. And, they have run all kinds of other races.
The couple has a “Boston” marathon room in their house and reportedly there is a room in their basement with every medal, trophy, bib numbers etc. they have received. In the room upstairs, they also have some of those things, plus jackets they get every year, a 100th anniversary Wheaties box picturing a famous winning marathon runner that year, and a Citgo sign which is seen by the runners about a mile from the finish line.
“That [Citgo] sign is nice to see,” said Barton, who indicated that all of the things he has on exhibit in his home mean more than anything to him. “You know you’re close [to the finish line] when you see it.”
Also in that room is a sign that read “Heartbreak Hill.”
“It’s the toughest part of the course,” he said.
And there is also the Hereford/Boyston street sign, where the bombing took place during the marathon three years ago.
Richard said he isn’t fearful to return to the marathon.
“I feel like he would have won if he took my freedom away from he,” he said of the bomber. “I wouldn’t let him do that.”
The couple each had just finished the race when the bombing occurred.
“I told Crystal [after the race] that I would meet her at the medals station,” he recalled. “I came back and thought someone had shot a cannon off. I found her and we ran to the “T,” which was locked down so then we ran and got a taxi cab. Nobody there knew anything about what had happened. The next day in town, there were officers on horses.
The Bartons were married in 2009, after having met in 2006 at a five-mile race.
“We trained for the Boston Marathon together and fell in love in 2007,” he said.
Crystal is from Piqua and has been a probation officer for the City of Sidney for eight years.
“We travel all over the world running,” said Richard, who stays busy taking care of his rental properties when he isn’t running. “We are gone about every weekend. We are doing a 100-mile in California at the end of June. It’s mountainous and there is snow part of the time.”
They have done races in France and in the Alps.
“The Alps is the hardest one we did together,” said Crystal.
“At Mount Blanc, it was a 119K [73.2 miles],” he said. “It is the tallest mountain in Europe.”
“We did a 100-mile race on Richard’s dad’s 100th birthday,” said Crystal, daughter of Ron and Barb Graham.
“It was the Jackpot 2015,” said Richard, son of the late Wilmer and Lucille Barton.
He competed in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, and from 2011 to the present at Boston.
“I just go to have a good time,” said Richard.
The Bartons were going to go to Piqua Tuesday night where all the area marathon runners were going to be hailed at a send-off event.
They are leaving for Boston Friday night.
Richard said he has run since 1989. His first event was a 5K at Versailles Poultry Days.
“I said I’d never run again after that,” he said. “But then I missed the Fourth of July and ran in the Annie Oakley 5K in July.”
A 1971 graduate of Gettysburg High School, he was addicted, apparently.
His wife’s best showing, he said, was the Midwest Super Slam where she participated in five-milers, the Indiana 100, Kettle Moraine 100 in Wisconsin, Mohican 100, Burning River and Hallucination in Michigan.
“I helped pace her,” he said.
She begin running in junior high.
“I enjoyed it and right away got hooked,” said Crystal, who graduated from Houston, Ohio, High School in 1993. “Richard coached me for the first marathon to qualify and we went to Boston together. It was a special race for us.”
Theirs is a blended family. He has three children, and she two, and he has six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
In preparation for the upcoming event, he tries to take part in other marathons, in addition to running eight to 15 miles five days a week around his community.
Barton said the weather during the Boston Marathon pretty much cooperates and they’re hoping it does this year, too.