GREENWICH, Conn. -- John Krasniewicz’s annual spring trips to the Boston Marathon begin with a stress-free train ride. A few days later, the Old Greenwich resident will run the race and finish the 26.2-mile distance in about 3 ½ hours.
On Monday, the 64-year-old will stand on the starting line in Hopkinton, Mass., for the 20th straight time. His goal is to reach 25 straight Bostons, which would guarantee him entry for life into the world’s most prestigious marathon.
“I didn’t think about the streak until maybe after the 15th race,’’ Krasniewicz said. “I just kind of got lucky to keep qualifying. I had a couple of slow Bostons, but I was able to qualify at the Marine Corps Marathon.”
His first Boston was on the 100th anniversary of the race in 1996. “It was pretty unique,’’ he said. “It was so crowded because they let in a lot more runners. You just got into one spot and you couldn’t move. I just ran and took whatever came out of it.”
In 2013, Krasniewicz finished about a half-hour before the bombings. He was on Boylston Street, about a quarter of a mile from the first explosion.
“I saw this bang and smoke, and I thought maybe a generator blew or something,’’ he said. “When the second one went off, I knew it was an explosion. I was in the Navy, so I knew what this was. That’s when I knew that was no generator. My wife usually stands across the street from where the second bomb went off. She was gone at the time of the explosion. We were very blessed that day.”
Krasniewicz’s most memorable Boston was the 2001 race. His late wife, Caryl, had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a biopsy four days before the race. She ran and finished in just over five hours.
“There were people helping her along the way and checking in on her,’’ Krasniewicz said. “It was quite emotional when she finished. She was amazing.”
“Kras,” as he is known in the running community, has a Boston best of 3:06 in 1999. His fastest race came in the Marine Corps Marathon, where he missed cracking the three hour mark by just 18 seconds. He ran 3:48:08 last year, and was 209th in his age group out of more than 9,700 runners. His frequent hill training comes in handy on race day.
“We prepare on hills,’’ Krasniewicz said. “We’ve done 22 miles of hills on some of the training runs. Up and down. At Boston, I let a lot of runners pass me in the first five miles. At Heartbreak Hill, I pass a lot of them. You don’t realize it you’re running downhill, and then boom, your legs just cramp up. You have to be careful at Boston.”
This weekend, he will follow the same routine. He’ll travel by train, go out to dinner with his wife and friends, and then run on Monday. After 19 years, he knows what works.
“We’ve got it down,’’ said Krasniewicz, who has stayed at the same hotel near the finish line for the past 15 years. “After 20 years, you kind of know the ins and outs of Boston. I try to catch one of the first buses down to Hopkinton instead of standing in line for two hours. Running Boston never gets old.”
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.