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Fairfield County Runner Jumps Into Marathon Game

WESTON, Conn. – Weston’s Pat Marafiote is a late bloomer in the marathon game. But over the past 16 months, he has made up for lost time.

Marafiote, 57, will run his first Boston Marathon on April 16. It will be his eighth overall after running his first in December 2010. He ran five in 2011, including a grueling span in which he completed three in 78 days. “You build up a helluva base doing that,’’ Marafiote said.

The frequency of his races last year earned him entry into the select Marathon Maniacs club, which salutes runners for their commitment to the 26.2-mile event. Remarkably, Marafiote jumped into his first marathon by happenstance.

He registered to run a half-marathon in St. Croix in 2010. When Marafiote got to the race, he asked to switch. Organizers permitted it, and Marafiote’s marathon career took flight. “It’s like a disease,’’ he said. “You just get this drive to do it.”

Marafiote’s best race came last June, when he ran the Ojai 2 Ocean in California in 3:30:54. That was the last of three marathons he ran in California last year and just three weeks after running the Pasadena Marathon in 3:47.36. He also ran the Los Angeles Marathon on March 20, 2011. In October, he finished the Amica Marathon in Rhode Island with a time of 3:32:00 and ran the Miami Marathon this January in 3:45:34.

He’s hoping to run 3:30 to 3:45 in Boston and had a good winter of training, competing in the Boston Buildup Series and other races. “I’m always shooting for a personal best,’’ Marafiote said. “The key for me is I don’t bonk, I’ll be OK. If I run in that window, I’ll be very happy. If I go over four hours, I won’t be happy.”

Although marathons are his latest bug, Marafiote’s background is in triathlons. He competed in seven triathlons in 2011, including events in Westport and Norwalk. Running is his strong suit in triathlons, which he also started in 2010. He completed his most recent triathlon on April 1 in Miami in 2:51 for the Olympic distance event with a 1,500-meter swim, 24.9-mile bike and 6.2-mile run. Marathons, however, are much different.

“The marathon is the toughest thing to do,’’ Marafiote said. “You’re focused on a running a good time. The triathlon is fun because it’s three different sports.”

Marafiote got into fitness when he stopped smoking 18 years ago. “I put on some weight and started running to keep the weight off,’’ he said. “I was feeling much better.”

Running is not Marafiote’s only outlet, either. He is an Application Portfolio Manager at a local hedge fund  and performs as a keyboard artist at clubs throughout Fairfield County. His musical talents include multiple tours with jazz, blues, R&B and rock acts with many well-known artists.

He keeps a hectic pace, but figures to keep pushing the envelope. “The window will close pretty soon,’’ Marafiote said. “I want to get as far through that window as I can. Ten years from now, I may not be doing it. I don’t know if I’m delaying the inevitable or accelerating it. I know I enjoy it, and I want to keep doing it.”

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