South/East Xtra: South Park man has quite a run


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Running 80 miles a week in preparation for a half marathon and marathon challenge in the same weekend was one thing, but nothing could prepare Jean-Pierre Allera for how sore he would feel that Monday morning after the competition.

"Unbelievably," he said with a laugh. "Driving makes it worse, too. It took me three tries to get out of the car."

Allera, a chemical engineer who lives in South Park, drove to Falmouth, Mass., to compete in the Clam Chowda Challenge the weekend of Oct. 26-27 and not only completed the test of endurance but finished remarkably well.

It was the third Clam Chowda Challenge to coincide with the Cape Cod Marathon Weekend in Falmouth. Participants ran a half marathon of 13.1 miles on Saturday and came right back to run a marathon on Sunday for a two-day total of 39.3 miles.

Allera, a 2011 graduate of Carnegie Mellon, won the half marathon in a course-record time of 1 hour, 14 minutes, 42 seconds, and recovered quickly enough to finish second in the marathon in 2:40:32.

"Jean-Pierre was just other worldly here," said Matt Auger, the Falmouth Track Club's race director. "It didn't even look like he ran. It looked like he was out for an enjoyable jog. I know he said he felt a little bit tight but he looked amazing."

Allera decided to challenge himself by signing up for both races after just recently being able to train again. He had been battling an injury since graduating from CMU and didn't begin training for his first marathon -- this year's Pittsburgh Marathon -- until January.

"I got up to 80 miles a week and I was there for about a month," Allera said. "I was building up all summer and got up to an 80 miles a week program for about a month before the race.

"I saw it as a challenge, definitely painful but it could be fun as well. I ran in college and high school competitively and I knew something like that would really force me to get back into shape."

Allera, who ran cross country at CMU, was joined by former Tartans teammate Justin Kurp of Irwin in the half marathon. Kurp, 24, ended up in third place with a time of 1:16:39.

"I started conservatively," Allera said. "The leaders had a bit of a gap on me and I closed that and took the lead around 8 miles. I ran my fastest probably around then and created a gap and rode that to the finish line.

"At 11 miles the official on the bike who was right by me said I had about a minute lead. With 2 miles to go I figured I had it locked up."

But then came Sunday morning, when his alarm clock went off and he had to run twice as far as he had the previous day.

"I knew I wanted to do it, there were no second thoughts. But there was definitely a lot of worry when I got out of bed and I was already sore."

Patrick Moulton of Providence, R.I., won the marathon in 2:36:00, taking the lead at about 18 miles and holding off Allera for the victory in a field of 900 runners. Nearly 1,000 started the half-marathon race, but only 130 signed up to compete in the Chowda Challenge and 96 completed it.

"The marathon course is a bear of a course," Auger said. "The last 7 miles of it are pretty decent hills. They're not big hills by Pennsylvania standards, but they're spaced out enough and long enough they really do a job on folks. For him to kind of hold out and do as well as he did on both days is really something else."

For his efforts, Allera received $500 for winning the half marathon and $500 for the course record. He also was awarded $400 for his finish in the marathon and a $100 gift certificate for having the fastest combined time for the Chowda Challenge.

Not bad money for a weekend's worth of running, but something not to be taken lightly.

"You have to get your mileage in," Auger said. "You have to have enough of a base of running so that on Monday you're not crippled."

And unable to get out of your car.


Rick Davis: rdavis@post-gazette.com or 412 263-3789.

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