Boston Marathon for Arthur

Farragut’s dedicated long-distance runner reaches his goal after struggle

  • Bobby Arthur of Farragut running during the Oak Ridge to Kingston Marathon in September 2023. - Photos submitted

  • A handful of Arthur’s family members displayed a poster — made by his youngest daughter and niece — which was used to help motivate Arthur during the Asheville Marathon on March 18, 2023. Surrounding Arthur after this marathon, from left, were his mother, Cheryl Arthur of Farragut; youngest daughter, Caroline Arthur; and niece, Laura Guinn of Farragut. - Photos submitted

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. We’ve all heard the age-old adage, but in the age of social media, where we tend to share every aspect of our lives, failure is a daunting prospect. But failure is not the end; it’s the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and try again.

In a conversation with Farragut resident Bobby Arthur, he chronicled his journey through the ups and downs of running marathons, from getting started to his upcoming participation in the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15. For the uninitiated, a full marathon requires 26.2 miles of pure stamina and determination, and getting there is no easy feat.

For Arthur, that route started about four years ago.

“I kind of took a late route,” he said. “I’m 47, and I really started getting serious during the pandemic in 2020.” He said he got serious about running then, after it became clear that the pandemic “wouldn’t be the nice three-week vacation that we were all led to believe it would be.”

Arthur’s first marathon experience came later that year when he participated in the Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon. During the early days of the pandemic, when crowds were not able to gather for the marathon in person, it was done a little differently: online. Participants were encouraged to run their own 13.1-mile route, record their times and upload their results on the website.

“It was a way to participate and have a goal,” Arthur explained. “It was a weird time. But this way, the organizations hosting races were also still able to raise money for their chosen causes.”

That good experience led to another, and soon he began setting his sights on the Boston Marathon.

Participation in his first full marathon came in 2022 in Richmond, Virginia.

“I never really had a desire to do a marathon, because at the end of a half it’s kind of like, ‘why would you do this twice?’” Arthur said.

He did run it, though, and finished with a time close to an hour over what he would need to qualify for Boston.

“I totally crashed,” Arthur said with humor in his voice. “My legs totally cramped up. I did the marathon shuffle for about 6 miles.”

That race taught him the importance of fueling for marathons. A saying amongst marathon runners is the marathon doesn’t start until mile 20. That rang true for Arthur in Richmond. He said his mistake was treating a full marathon the same way he treated half marathons.

Now, he has a better grasp on the whole thing. His second marathon, in spring of 2023 in Asheville, went much better, although Arthur once again missed the qualifying time for Boston.

“I took a much different approach to nutrition,” he explained, adding he ate a couple of things beforehand and even a few times during the race.

“Now, I always eat a light breakfast and take gels (calorie-dense nutritional supplements) about every four miles.”

Arthur got his Boston qualifying time during the Oak Ridge to Kingston Marathon in September of last year, with a time of around 3 hours and 13 minutes.

“When I first started this and I failed so badly at Richmond, I think there was some doubt,” Arthur said. “I told my family, ‘Look guys, it’s fine. I could do this a hundred times. I only gotta get it right once.’”

To his two teenage daughters, Savannah and Caroline, who have supported him from the beginning, he wants to say that it’s OK not to get things right the first time.

The importance is perseverance. “Whatever it is, whether it’s marathons or work or whatever your passion is, just keep going,” Arthur said.