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P.E.I. Marathon milestone: Charlottetown woman has sights set on 100th run

Dianne Watts Pye is excited with the prospect of completing her 100th marathon when she laces up Sunday for the 14th Annual Prince Edward Island Marathon. JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN
Dianne Watts Pye is excited with the prospect of completing her 100th marathon when she laces up Sunday for the 14th Annual Prince Edward Island Marathon. JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN

In 2005, Dianne Watts Pye set out to run a marathon – one, she thought at the time, would be both her first and last 42-kilometre race.

She finished the race, but decided to keep on running.

Has she ever.

On Sunday, she plans to reach a major milestone by completing her 100th marathon in the 14th annual Prince Edward Island Marathon.

Watts Pye, 58, of Charlottetown did not start running until her mid-40s. She has covered plenty of ground since.

She ran her first 10-kilometre race in 2003 – the year she first started running.

“It was something I always wanted to do,’’ she recalls.

She ran a half marathon the following year. She than thought one full marathon in 2005 in P.E.I. would be enough to satisfy her running ambition.

That proved far from the case.

When she came within just 10 minutes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, Watts Pye was determined to come back the next year and qualify for the prestigious race.

Her time in the 2006 Island marathon qualified her for the Boston Marathon, which she ran the next year.

She then set an ambitious goal of running 50 marathons, which she accomplished in 2013, racking up 15 of the long runs in 2012, including five in the month of October alone.

She has since run another 49 in pursuit of the updated goal of completing 100 marathons.

Of her 99 marathons so far, she has run in roughly 30 different events, all in North America but the bulk in the Maritimes.

Her personal best is three hours and 45 minutes.

The marathon experience that tops the list, however, was Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge that has runners do a half marathon on a Saturday followed by a full marathon the next day, pounding the pavement through all four Walt Disney World theme parks.

Watts Pye, who snapped plenty of photos, felt more like a tourist than a runner during that goofy event.

In stark contrast, her worst marathon experience was nothing short of horrific.

Watts Pye was nearing the finish line in the Boston Marathon in 2013 when she heard the twin blasts that would kill three people and injure more than 100 others.

She was not hurt, but the double bomb terrorist attack has had a lasting effect.

She suffers anxiety when she runs marathons today.

“I could be sick or just feel uneasy,’’ she explains.

Still, Watts Pye has no plan to stop running marathons after reaching the 100-mark on Sunday, but expects to decrease the number of marathons she runs each year.

“I have to remember I’m not getting any younger,’’ says Watts Pye, who has retired after working 36 years at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I would like to do at least another 10 full marathons.’’

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