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Ferrell likes role of marathon man

By Susan Bickelhaupt, Globe Staff, 4/21/2003

It sounds like a skit from "Saturday Night Live." A couple goes for a run while on vacation on Martha's Vineyard. They decide to clock the distance later in the car, and discover they had run 7 miles. "Man, that's by far the longest we've ever run!" says the husband.

Then they decide to run a marathon.

That's how it played out two summers ago for Will Ferrell and his wife, Viveca Paulin, who today will be running in their third marathon when they make their Boston debut.

Ferrell, 35, was never in a skit like that on "Saturday Night Live," but he was on the show for seven years. He left after last season to pursue a movie career.

Paulin, an art auctioneer who grew up in Needham and used to ride her bike to Wellesley to watch the Boston Marathon, encouraged her husband to run the New York Marathon in 2001, because they soon would be leaving New York for Los Angeles.

"I thought that would be amazing to try sometime," she said, adding that they were inspired by what they thought was their long run on Martha's Vineyard.

They didn't start training until August for the November race, and both finished in 5 hours 1 minute 56 seconds.

"We dragged ourselves over the finish line," said Paulin.

The two now have a trainer, Gary Kobat, who will be with them today. "He'll tell us to speed up, slow down, stop whining," said Ferrell.

Ferrell, who played basketball, football, and baseball in high school, has become an avid runner, finishing the Stockholm Marathon last June in 4:28:22, and completing a half-marathon in San Diego in 1:45.

He was featured on the cover of Runner's World last month, but said he realizes the thousands who will line the course today will be nothing like his more familiar Hollywood crowd.

"But I like that," said Ferrell, who is looking forward to being just another face in the crowd. "It's more low-key, and I appreciate that."

Ferrell, who got into today's field by invitation and not by qualifying, is hoping to break four hours. His goals are modest.

"As long as a guy dressed in a Gumby suit doesn't pass me, then I'll be OK," he said.

This story ran on page D9 of the Boston Globe on 4/21/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

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