TRAVERSE CITY — David Mart wasn’t about to take any chances.
The 25-year-old Zeeland runner opened a two-and-a-half minute lead on Justin Dickman at the halfway mark of Saturday’s Bayshore Marathon when he started to wonder if that was enough.
“I thought I would probably slowly break away,” Mart said. “But then I thought, ‘He might be a fast finisher.’
“I run a pretty consistent pace, but I was slowing down at the end and I was worried he would catch up. I just tried to hold it and stay as strong as I could.”
Mart didn’t need to worry.
He finished in a personal best 2:25:42 — more than eight minutes ahead of East Lansing’s Todd Buckingham, who was third at the turnaround. Dickman ended up fifth.
Mart had reason to wonder, though. All he had to do is think back to last year when he finished second to Jon Gries by 47 seconds.
“I didn’t realize I was that close until the end,” he recalled. “He (Gries) took the lead at the very beginning and left me in the dust. But when I hopped on the track (at Traverse City Central) he was just finishing.”
Mart ran a 1:11:50 split at the half Saturday.
“My fastest split time for a full marathon,” he said. “But I think I pushed it a little faster than I wanted at the beginning. I should have gone out a little slower. The adrenaline, the excitement at the start makes you want to go out faster than you really should.”
Mart was about three minutes slower on the return trip down Old Mission Peninsula.
“I had the energy to go faster, but my legs were shaky and I started to fatigue. I’m used to doing half marathons.”
Still, he broke his previous best marathon time by 16 seconds.