Reno’s Fred Zalokar aims for a human first

Fred Zalokar runs during the 2015 New York Marathon, one of five World Marathon Major age group titles he’s won.
(Photo: Photo provided by Marathonfoto)Reno runner Fred Zalokar has crossed more finish lines that he can remember during his life, but the final tape that awaits him during Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon is one he hopes to remember forever.

Zalokar, one of the best marathon runners in the world, is looking to accomplish something no person has ever before: win his age group in all six of the World Marathon Majors.

Zalokar won Berlin in 2010, Boston in 2011, Chicago in 2012, New York in 2015 and London in 2016. The only major title that has eluded him is Tokyo, where Zalokar placed second in 2014. He returns to Japan this weekend in an attempt to finish off the sextet of titles. He would be the first to accomplish that.

Zalokar’s nerves come from knowing anything can happen when you toe the line to run a marathon. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes that’s bad. The first time Zalokar ran in Tokyo, he was given a bum draw and put behind a number of slower runs from Japan. After weaving his way through the pack, he placed second in his age group.

Everything leading up to Sunday’s marathon has been ideal.

“It’s funny,” Zalokar said. “I’ve had races where I go in feeling like King Kong and don’t do so well. I’ve had races where I was sick the day before, wasn’t feeling good, had all of these different issues and was really worried and paced myself together and ran one of my better races. It’s interesting. Mentally you want to stay sharp and not take anything for granted. The second you relax, you’re in trouble.”

Zalokar’s quest to bag all of the major titles came about almost by accident.

A football player in high school, Zalokar eventually fell into running. He focused on 50- and 100-mile races and mostly stuck to trails over road races. But, in 2009, his wife, Deb, asked him to run the Boston Marathon with her. He declined, telling her to run it with a friend, but was eventually persuaded to give marathons a shot. He decided he would run all five marathon majors when he turned 50.

Zalokar needed only one shot to win his age group in Berlin, Boston and Chicago and two shots to win in New York and London. In 2012, Tokyo was added to the major circuit, increasing the challenge even more. With only one race left to win, Zalokar said he’s excited by the notion of completing a goal. Read Full Story