For love of running and country

Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of features on Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon participants leading up to Sunday’s race.

There will be no mistaking Tim Price during Sunday’s Kauai Marathon.

He’ll be the one wearing the stars and stripes on his running shorts, a bandana and no shirt. That he’s six-feet tall, has long flowing hair and likely be among the leaders will make him hard to miss, too.

“I guess I sort of stick out,” Price aid

The 25-year-old from Bluffton, South Carolina, will be competing with about 325 others in the 26.2-mile race that begins at 6 a.m. in Poipu. Sure, winning would be nice. His personal best of 2 hours, 39 minutes makes him a candidate to be first across the finish line. It’s one reason he wasn’t disappointed to hear three-time Kauai Marathon winner, Tyler McCandless, was entered in the 13.1-mile half marathon Sunday.

“That’s good news to me,” he said, chuckling. “I’d like to win, that’s what I’m aiming for.”

But winning, Price says, isn’t everything. It isn’t what matters most come race day. He’s not one of those who obsesses over place or time. He doesn’t have a desire to own the latest GPS watch or religiously record his miles.

“The diets, hardcore training regiments, professional coaching, focus on nothing but getting faster just isn’t who I am,” he wrote. “Running is about the experience you have, the people you meet, and having as much fun as possible.”

In fact, he prefers doing things like pacing friends through races so they can achieve their best and happily would trade setting a personal record for the chance to inspire a new runner. His favorite race, the 2013 Richmond Marathon, wasn’t because he won or did particularly well, but because he ran with his father, Keith.

“To me, this is the epitome of what running is, the forging of lifelong memories,” he said.

For what is near and dear to this marathoner’s heart, just consider those red, white and blue shorts he’ll be wearing as he covers the hilly course.

It’s the same pair he’s worn in every race since 2009 when he ran his first marathon at age 19. We’re talking 40-plus races per year of various distances.

American made and American proud is a phrase he uses often. Price grew up working on dairy farms in Pennsylvania and learned young about working hard to achieve goals. He developed a strong sense of patriotism and showing support for police, fire and military.

So those shorts send a clear message of the pride he has in his country.

“It’s my trademark,” he said. “It’s just what I started doing.”

It’s a conversation starter, for sure, and people in Florida, Boston and California have noticed that tall, slender guy with flowing locks and American flag shorts. Cheers of “Go America,” and chants of “USA” are not uncommon as he glides along.

“It’s definitely a morale booster,” said Price, who is scheduled to arrive on Kauai today with girlfriend, Natalie, with plans to celebrate her birthday Saturday.

Another reason running is his life’s passion is the opportunity it creates to meet people — make new friends and perhaps visit with old ones. He finds great joy in traveling to different places to run, which is why he’s completed more than 20 marathons. The camaraderie of this sport is unlike any other, he said.

“For me, the big thing is the people,” he said, “just meeting other runners. That’s why I love racing so much. It’s the social aspect that I really love.”

But don’t let him fool you into thinking he’s just here for casual conversation. Price is a competitor. He won the Hilton Head Island Marathon on Feb. 7 in that PR of 2:39:35, and two weeks later won the Publix Gasparilla Michelob Ultra Challenge (5k, 8k, 15k, half marathon) over two days. He also won the 2015 Chilly Bean 10k in South Carolina.

The 150-pounder averages about 45 miles a week of running, less than many in the world of marathoning, but it’s about quality, not quantity, he said.

“I run almost all my miles at race pace or right above,” he said.

To prepare for the heat, humidity and hills the Kauai course is known for, he boosted his road work to 50 miles a week, knocked out several runs in the 20-mile range, including a 21-miler in the morning, followed by a five-miler in the afternoon.

But he’s coming off a few injuries suffered since running the Boston Marathon in April and his fitness isn’t at the same level it was when he won the Hilton marathon, so he planning to let Sunday’s race unfold and hope for the best.

“I go by how I feel. If something is hurting, I’m not going to push myself,” he said. “There’s always another race. There’s no reason to hurt yourself.”

Still, it would be wise to watch for the man wearing the stars and stripes. Pride and determination have already carried him pretty far.

“If everything goes well, I might just take off,” he said. “We’ll see.”

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