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Returning the favor

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | June 25, 2021 1:07 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Charles and Jane Cutting are runners.

They’ve finished marathons in 50 states. They completed 50ks. They’re among a selected group that has been in all 35 Los Angeles Marathons and will run number 36 later this year. They’ve run the granddaddy of them all, the Boston Marathon. They have a vast collection of medals and ribbons, of which they are very proud, from hundreds of races.

And today, some 50 years after they took those first steps in road races — and they're still going — the Hayden couple is equally passionate about something else: volunteering.

Since 2005, the Cuttings have volunteered with Ironman CDA almost every year. You name it, and they’ve done it. Transition area. Aid stations. Traffic control. Finish line. Bike course. Run course. Registration.

Thursday, the Cuttings, wearing blue Ironman volunteer shirts, were back at their volunteer duties in Ironman Village at City Park. Jane, 81, was distributing goodie bags to athletes, while 83-year-old Charles was involved with the timing chips.

They do it because they remember well the difference volunteers have made for them over thousands of miles.

“To make up for the all the volunteers that have helped me in all the races I’ve done,” Charles Cutting said.

“I’ve done so many races,” Jane Cutting said. “I’m thankful for the volunteers.”

And they’ll be back again for Ironman CDA on Sunday, when they’ll be directing runners at McEuen Park and later, you’ll find them at the finish line

“We do a lot of these every year,” Jane said.

“We’re not doing quite as many this year as we have in the past,” Charles added.

Cynthia Rozyla, president of the North Idaho Sports Commission which was key in bringing the full Ironman back to Coeur d’Alene, met the Cuttings about six years ago when she was directing the Coeur d’Alene Marathon and they ran it.

She got a chance to chat with them and saw pictures of their race medals, “so nicely laid out and displayed. The best I’ve seen,” she said.

She said the Cuttings have been supportive of many races in the area.

“Fantastic people,” she said. “They’re amazing.”

Volunteers like the Cuttings are key to the success of Ironman. This year, about 3,500 are needed for Sunday's event, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. More than 3,000 men and women are registered, one of the largest fields in event history. Many athletes credit volunteers with helping them reach the finish line.

They take on a number of tasks, from setup to cleanup to crowd control to aid stations to security and course monitors.

The Cuttings, who will celebrate 60 years of marriage in September, weren’t runners when they wed. It wasn't until the early 1970s when they took up the sport. Jane recalled running the first Honolulu Marathon in 1973 and recalled that one of the stragglers took 11 hours to finish, which she found amusing.

“I climbed Mt. Whitney faster than that,” she thought to herself at the time.

Since, they’ve stayed with running race distances short and long. Both take pride in being members of the "50 States Marathon Club," which is displayed colorfully on the hats they wore Thursday.

They also point out they haven’t missed a Los Angeles Marathon since it was first held in 1986. Only about 125 others can make that claim.

"We'll be there again this year," Jane said.

They ran the Boston Marathon in 1985.

“We’ve done a lot together. We’ve done some marathons together. He’s usually faster than I am, but I’ve beat him a few times,” Jane said with a smile. "At Boston I beat him," she added.

“I went out too fast in Boston, I hit the wall,” Charles responded, shaking his head.

He qualified for a return to Boston a few years ago by beating the required time for his age group, but didn’t get in when those with faster qualifying times received the limited slots.

“I beat their time, but they had too many in the old people group,” Charles said.

“Not fair,” Jane said. “Anybody over 80 should be able to get in under their qualifying standard.”

Jane mostly walks their races now.

“I wore my knees out,” she said.

Charles plans to keep running, as long and as far as he can, though he’s not entirely sure why.

“I can’t say it keeps us off the streets,” he said, as they both laughed.

No doubt, it keeps them young at heart.

To volunteer: www.ironman.com/volunteer

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