By day, William "Dennis" James is a hard-working research scientist who heads the Elemental Analysis Laboratory in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University. On the weekends, he's the best friend a pair of sneakers ever had.

James proved it this past weekend by finishing among the leaders in his age group (60-64) in the annual running of the Boston Marathon, where he and son Rob and a staggering 27,000 others participated in the country's most famous race. James finished the grueling course at 3 hours, 58 minutes and 19 seconds, meaning he accomplished what he set out to do.

"My goal was to finish under four hours, and I did, so I am happy," James says of the event. "That is a challenging course, to say the least."

Son Rob, 40, who lives in Tulsa, Okla., also finished among the leaders in his age group, "so we both left there feeling like we did what we set out to do," the Texas A&M researcher adds.

A veteran runner since the 1970s, he says the Boston Marathon route is not for the timid.

"You start the race in a small town called Hopkinton, and then you get to Wellesley College, which is exactly halfway, and then comes the really hard part -- a series of steep grades topped off with one called 'Heartbreak Hill,' and it is well-named because it's very tough to get to the top," he notes. "All along the way, there are thousands and thousands of people cheering the runners on, and the last 3-to-4 miles, the crowds are four and five people deep and very loud. When you cross the finish line, you feel like you've really done something special."

With his time this year, James says he has already qualified for next year's Boston Marathon, but may take his time before making a final decision of whether to return. In the meantime, he and sons Rob and Tracy, the latter of Bryan, will likely compete in a Memorial Day race in Hot Springs, Ark.

"Running in Boston was a great challenge, and it lives up to its billing," James says. "I may or may not run in it again next year, but it was definitely one of the best experiences of my life."


Contact: Dennis James at (979) 845-7630 or email at wd-james@tamu.edu or Keith Randall at (979) 845-4644 or email at keith-randall@tamu.edu

Randall Keith

  • William "Dennis" James

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