A Tyler neurosurgeon placed 636th out of over 30,000 runners in the 30th New York Marathon last week in only his second 26-mile race. It qualified him for the Boston Marathon next year.

Dr. Mark Renfro, M.D., had a time of 2:59:28, earning him the 304th spot for his age group. He started running in college about 15 years ago and only last year got into the longer distances.

The 35-year-old North Carolina native’s finish was faster than his first marathon in Austin earlier this year. He has competed in several shorter runs.

The winner of the NYC Marathon was Joseph Chebet of Kenya with a time of 2:09:14. The last place time was 9:59:59, more than 7 hours after Renfro crossed the finish line at Tavern on the Green in uptown New York City.

Renfro’s 10K time was 40:20 while the halfway mark was 1:25:08 and his 20-mile time was recorded at 2:13:34 which computed to a 6.50 minute per mile pace.

“It’s my second marathon, but the first time to run in New York City. It’s the world’s largest marathon, with 30,000 runners and takes you through all the boroughs of New York City. It’s unbelievable with a million spectators cheering you on. It’s a fantastic run,” the University of Florida medical graduate said.

Asked about his decision to run in New York, the 5’10” 145-lb. surgeon said, “I just wanted to do it for the thrill of running in a world-famous marathon in a great city.”

He said last February he ran his first marathon in Austin with a time of 3:03. “The run in New York is a little bit harder than the one in Austin because so many people are in the race, it’s a little bit more hilly and some bridges you have to cross make it a little bit harder,” he added.

Asked about his strategy, the neurosurgeon who has practiced in Tyler for nearly three years said, “You want to make sure you pace yourself and not get out too fast or get too caught up in the excitement because you have to make sure you leave yourself enough stamina and strength at the end of the run. You want to make sure you finish it and finish it well, and not die out and have to walk.”

Renfro, a neurosurgeon with East Texas Medical Center’s Neurological Institute, said he started running in college (University of North Carolina) and continued in medical school once or twice a week. “It was for shorter distances and not for competition. During my residency for a neurosurgeon, I started running a lot and pretty much five to seven days a week. That’s when I started competing in races but they were shorter races – 5 and 10K’s and sometimes 15K. I started thinking about doing a marathon as a resident, but I didn’t have the time.”

The Reidsville, N.C. high school graduate said he plans to run in the marathon in Austin again this February “and with my times I qualified for Boston so I want to do that next spring.”

He said he runs for the exercise “and I like the feel of running…the runner’s high you get…it’s really important to me for running is a way to release any stress. It is a great way to exercise and to stay in shape. It is extremely healthy and it makes me feel good.”

Renfro added he runs five to six days a week between 5-8 miles daily, while on weekends he will do a long run Sunday with a running group called the East Texas Striders, running between 10-15 miles – about 60 miles per week.

He said the group sometimes does longer runs on Sunday “especially if someone is training for a marathon.”

Asked if he ran to the operating room from his office, Renfro smiled and said “I don’t remember running, but some of my co-workers said I walk very fast.”