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Athlete Stuart Grant competing in a prior Nuchallawoyya marathon. Running in front of Tanana’s old hospital, Stuart is airborne.

Stuart Grant, a Doyon Foundation alumnus and former basic scholarship recipient from Tanana, Alaska, has a long history of running in local marathons and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It was during summer solstice in Anchorage that he met his goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon by competing in the Anchorage Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon with a race time of 3 hours, 19 minutes, 32 seconds — coming in 35th out of 400 finishers. This Anchorage race is one of many national marathons to serve as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, a goal Stuart set last year.

The Boston Marathon will be held on April 20, 2009 and includes 11 age brackets, including those “80 and over.” This 26-mile marathon began in 1897 and is the “world’s oldest annually contested marathon,” according to its Web site. The prize monies spread amongst winners will total $796,000.

Stuart participates in most Fairbanks and Anchorage marathons now, but competed annually in Ruby, Galena and Huslia. He was also featured in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner for the World Eskimo Indian Olympics Race of the Torch in 2003, where he is a seven-time consecutive winner.

Though Stuart enjoys these gatherings, it’s been his work commitments that keep him from traveling much nowadays. He is a corrosion field engineer for Kakivik Asset Management. He graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) with a bachelor of science and technology, and has a background in the oil industry as a corrosion inspector. Stuart holds a two-year associate of applied science in welding technology and non-destructive testing from UAA also.

He’s been a runner since junior high and, looking back, Stuart remembers himself as a 10-year-old. “Nuchallawoyya was my inspiration…I watched the runners from the side of the road and I wanted to be a runner from that time on,” he said.

Stuart has five sisters and three brothers now, and his parents are Regina Grant, step-dad Harry Nicholia, and the late Richard Grant, Sr. He has a two-year-old daughter, Josie.

Growing up with brother Louis, “My father really laid it on the line for me,” Stuart said. Richard Sr. was the primary source for inspiration and knowledge. “You need to get out there and he woke us up in the morning. We ran twice a day, built on that, and he helped build our foundation.” Richard Sr. offered realistic encouragement to both boys. Even when high school performances weren’t the absolute best, he would tell them, “Sure, you’re not as good as you want, but you’ll come around.”

Sister Adele Grant said, “Stuart is always encouraging his nieces and nephews to exercise. He’s known in our family as a healthy role model.” Another sister is Eileen Grant-Moreau, who said of her little brother, “Stuart has always had high expectations for himself and never really thinks twice about pushing himself harder. He’s always so encouraging to the younger ones in the family.”

Stuart’s hometown and friends in Tanana are supporting the cause already, with donations coming in from an announcement in the www.myfamily.com Web site for Tanana. His sisters are planning a fall fundraiser in Fairbanks. If you would like to contribute toward Stuart’s travel costs, or support him as a positive role model for others to follow, donations are welcomed through an account set up at Alaska USA.

When asked what he’d tell a young athlete, Stuart offered, “If you want to do something, you know, the hardest part is a lot of kids have trouble following up. Look for a mentor –‘hey this is what I want to do someday,’ tell someone and share – have a mentor that will help you follow up on that goal. You gotta be motivated to train, which I did, and now I came full circle.”

Reprinted with permission from the Tanana Chiefs Conference.