They say you cannot call yourself a distance runner until you run the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon.

They say you cannot call yourself a distance runner until you run the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon.

Westerville School District Superintendent John Kellogg worked for that title Monday, April 21 by running in his first Boston Marathon.

A collegiate cross-country career journeyed with Kellogg post-college. He ran at the College of William & Mary and continued to run competitively after college. It wasn't until recently he took an interest in marathons.

"It wasn't until 2010 that I conquered the distance," Kellogg said.

In 2010, he ran his first marathon in Columbus. Last year he qualified to run in the Boston Marathon at the Columbus Marathon, with a finish time of 2:59:05, an average of about a 6:51-minute mile.

The Boston Marathon began after the first modern-style marathon at the 1896 summer Olympics. Since 1897, on the third Monday in April known as Patriot's Day, Boston celebrates the day with the annual marathon.

The race attracts about 20,000 participants and more than 500,000 spectators. The course is well known for its hilly terrain in addition to the distance. At the end of the course is what runners call "Heartbreak Hill," the final obstacle to the finish line.

Kellogg knew the course well. Before the race, he said he was nervous about Heartbreak Hill, "the two before that, and the 20 miles before that."

"My brother is a golfer and he said the course always wins," he said. "I think the same thing goes for a marathoner. No matter how fast you run, the course always wins."

Last year, tragedy struck the event when pressure-cooker bombs placed by terrorists were detonated at the finish line at the 4:09:43 mark. The explosives killed three people and injured more than 200. A police officer who was killed trying to apprehend the two bombers is considered the fourth fatality from the attack.

Last week, on the anniversary of the 2013 tragedy, police found a suspicious backpack at the finish line. The backpack's owner was taken into custody, and the backpack carried a rice cooker. There were no explosives in the bag.

Though Kellogg had some reservations, he said the city's and race's motto of "Boston Strong" helped him stay positive.

"Really what happens, for most of us, we're competing against ourselves," he said. "You find yourself making friends in the moments of the race. The relationships that happen and the tragedy that occurred last year just remind you of the camaraderie and shared experience.

"I know this race will have a lot of emotion and it's energizing. Being able to say you competed and helped put it in a positive light is a good thing," he added.

Runners have to qualify for the Boston Marathon by competing in a separate race deemed a Boston Qualifying event, such as the Columbus Marathon. For the New York City Marathon, runners enter a drawing and are invited to run.

The New York City Marathon is Nov. 2. Kellogg received his invite in March. He has some time to decide if he wants to participate, and perhaps officially become a distance runner.

"I'll think about that late summer and squeeze the time to do that," he said. "It's really attractive. It's kind of hard to say you're a distance runner if you haven't done New York or Boston."

Kellogg finished the Boston Marathon in 3:03:06.