Jason "J-Mac" McElwain of Greece pushes himself to the finish line of the Rochester Marathon Sunday morning. / KRIS MURANTE / Staff photographer
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester) -- Defying odds isn't new for Jason McElwain, and J-Mac did it again on Sunday.
Running in his first marathon, the 23-year-old former Greece Athena basketball manager who gained international stardom in 2006 finished in 15th place with a time good enough to qualify him for the Boston Marathon. A highly functioning autistic adult, McElwain came in at 3 hours, 1 minute 41 seconds in the MVP Health Care Rochester Marathon. He needed to finish in under 3:05.
"This was a great experience - hardest thing I've ever done," said J-Mac, who became a household name in Rochester after making six 3-pointers and scoring 20 points in just four minutes of action in his only varsity game in 2006. His performance was posted on YouTube and it went viral, making him a star.
"I was struggling from (mile) 18 to 21, but then when I got to about 25 I looked at my watch. I saw 2:58 at the 200-meter mark. I just gave it everything I have."
That's nothing unusual. McElwain began training about a year ago. He ran cross country for Athena in school and is now a volunteer assistant coach. He's volunteer assistant, too, in basketball while working in the bakery at Wegmans and busing tables at the Brook House Restaurant.
He said when he awoke Sunday morning he was "focused and nervous at the same time." It was his goal to qualify for Boston, which most runners consider the ultimate marathon to run. Next spring's Boston race is already closed, but McElwain's time still qualifies him for the 2014 race and he said he plans to run it.
As he headed for the finish line Sunday, he had only a few words race through his head. "Just get there. Just get there. That's all I wanted to do was just get there. I trained for a year and it's all paid off."