Seattle University’s assistant cross country coach, Uli Steidl, had quite the memorable experience at the Boston Marathon last week—and this time it did not involve a devastating tragedy.
“Last year’s Boston was very memorable,” Steidl said, “but for the wrong reasons.”
The 2013 Boston Marathon seemed like any other race at first. However late in the day, a few explosions occurred at the finish line. Hotels went into lockdown mode and the city shut down.
“Once the bombs went off, it was disbelief at first,” Steidl said. “I remember having two main thoughts. I was obviously concerned for those who were immediately affected and wondered if I knew any of them. The second thing was knowing that this would impact marathon running and live sporting events in general in terms of security measures, and people being afraid of things that might happen.”
This year, the event was even bigger with more racers, more spectators and more security. The city rallied together and remembered what horrific event had occurred just one year ago. This year, the event was successful and a big celebration for the city of Boston. None of the racers appeared to have been intimidated by the bombings.
“Those types of things don’t happen very often,” Steidl said. “Things can happen anywhere, and you cannot let your life be ruled by fear.”
Steidl definitely did just that and won the master’s division of the race—a huge accomplishment for the coach, considering he fell sick during the prime weeks of training. Steidl finished 22 overall, just over a minute behind American record holder Ryan Hall, beating two Olympians in the process. The master’s division consists of racers who are 40 years old and above. The man that placed first overall this year was an American who Steidl had raced against in college.
“An American won for the first time in 31 years which made this year’s race even more special,” Steidl said. “I raced against him once when UCLA went against Portland. I beat him once, but he has done very well since then.”
Steidl began as an assistant coach at Seattle University for the cross country and track and field teams in 2006. He was relatively well-known in Seattle at the time having, won the Seattle Marathon for eight straight years from 1999 to 2006.
Steidl grew up in Ellenberg, Germany where he started off his athletic career with biking. When he was 17, he entered his first running race and ended up placing first overall.
“I planned on going back to biking in the spring, but one of the local runners took me to a bunch of races and I had a lot of success,” said Steidl. “In the spring I did a bike race and was terrible, so I stuck with running.”
In 1993, Steidl was recruited by the University of Portland and came to the United States. He then attended graduate school at the University of Washington and has remained in Seattle.
It has now been 24.5 years of racing for Steidl. Over the course of his career, there have been several memorable moments. Steidl won a running championship in Switzerland while he was only a junior; he ran a marathon in North Korea, competed in the 2007 marathon world championship in Osaka, Japan, and ran the last two Boston marathons.
Despite his success, running is also just something fun to do for Steidl.
“I like running in itself. I enjoy it most when I have a lot of time and can go run in the mountains,” Steidl said. “But I do also enjoy competition and testing myself against others on the track in a race against the clock.”
Right now, Steidl runs just about every day. He will typically run about 90 miles a week as a part of his training.
While in Seattle, Steidl has made himself very well known for dominating the Seattle Marathon. The race in Seattle is not nearly as glamorous as other marathons but it is still a fun race to take part in. After winning his eighth Seattle Marathon in 2006, Steidl took a few years off before winning it again in 2012 and 2013.
“I mostly run that race as a training run because it is there,” Steidl said.
Meanwhile Steidl continues to coach at Seattle U, enjoying both the acts of racing and coaching, sharing his success and enthusiasm for the sport with his athletes.
“It is part of giving back to the sport,” Steidl said. “I like working with younger people and seeing them improve. Overall the season has been going really well.”