“To this day, runners from all over the world, from remote parts of the Ukraine to the mud-hutted villages of Kenya, grow up dreaming of running just one race – the Boston Marathon. Given all the lore, the tradition, the epic stories of athletic triumph and tragedy, the one-of-a-kind personality of the course, the city where it takes place, and the people who make up the huge crowds along the way, it’s no wonder many consider this the Holy Grail of marathon running in American and the world over.” – Bill Rogers, Marathon Man
There’s a mystique that surrounds the Boston Marathon. One of the six World Marathon Majors, the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest marathon. It is also the most famous and prestigious marathon in the world.
The original marathon was one man’s journey, in 490 B.C. from Marathon to Athens, to announce Greece’s victory over the Persian’s. (That runner, by the way, believed to be Eucles, dropped dead from exhaustion upon his arrival in Athens.) The marathon as an event was introduced by Olympic organizers for the first Olympic Games in 1896. The following April, the first Boston Marathon was held.
The Boston Marathon is held on Patriot’s Day, officially the third Monday in April. Patriot’s Day is a civic holiday, commemorating Paul Revere, the Minute Men and the first military engagements of the American Revolutionary War and the efforts of those, the Patriots, who fought for American independence, like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and other Minute Men.
The day is a state and school holiday, encouraging locals (and even those in neighboring states) to show up to cheer along the Boston Marathon course, having some referring to the holiday as “Marathon Monday.” As journalist Mike Barnicle points out, “The marathon, basically, is a twenty-six mile long block party in greater Boston. It’s a community event, more than it is a sporting event.”
For New Englanders, the race is a celebration of freedom, nationalism and resilience. Among the running community, the race is legendary, the Superbowl of running events to which many long course runners aspire. After the tragic events of April 15th, 2013, the Boston Marathon is now well known to the rest of the world.
2013 was my first Boston Marathon, after qualifying for the race in the fall of 2012. (For those unfamiliar, runners must run a certified course and meet a time that is adjusted by gender and age in order to qualify for the marathon.)
Being at such an historic event made the day an emotional one to begin with. What happened at the finish line, a mere two blocks from where I stood collecting the belongings I had left at gear check earlier in the day, and the events that unfolded throughout that week, intensified and drastically altered the emotions of that day for me. It was indeed an unforgettable experience, but not in the way the race organizers or the locals who came out to cheer had intended.
“What happened in the marathon last year, I think, the ensemble cast of all of those who participate, all of those who witness it, feel stronger about themselves, feel more pride in the event and more hopeful about the future because of what they endured, what the city endured and what the city bounced back from.” – Mike Barnicle
What happened last year, as Barnicle points out, certainly shaped me – as a runner, as an athlete, as a person. It had an indelible impact on the city of Boston, as well, a city that has been forged through fire many times over. Barnicle says, “This city endures, prospers, survives and is standing up every day.”
For 2014, the Boston Athletic Association, the event organizer, is making the Boston Marathon an even bigger celebration, with the focus still on the freedom for which the day stands. As Barnicle highlights, “There’s a certain bittersweet aspect to this year’s marathon.”
Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Saturday Morning Edition, speaks of the phrase, “Boston Strong.” “’Boston Strong’ has become an American phrase over the past year, after bombs exploded at the finish line of last year’s Boston Marathon… ’Boston Strong’ has described the grit and the grace with which Boston and the people injured have lived through their loses.”
Higher Gear is delighting with our customers who have earned a spot in this event’s history, who will be toeing the starting line in Hopkinton on Monday, April 21st this year. Let’s take this opportunity to meet a few of our customers who have braved this miserable winter, training for the world’s most legendary running race. These customers are, indeed, “Boston Strong.”
Before meeting our 2014 Boston-qualifying runners, if you’re not a runner or not familiar with the Boston Marathon, here’s a brief Guide to the Boston Marathon I put together for you, based on my experience last year.
To get to know each of our Boston qualifiers, click on their names (or their images) below:
Matthew Gilson – The Right Place, The Right Time
A long-time cyclist, Matthew is fairly new to competitive running. This is his first Boston Marathon. See how Matthew combines cycling and running for a balanced approach to training.
Patty Carrel – Identity Established: Triathlete, Runner and Mother
Patty is a triathlete, returning to Boston for her third Boston Marathon. Patty has made a career for herself setting goals and picking them off one at a time. Check out Patty’s story to see where else her goal-setting (and accomplishing) is taking her this year.
Patricia Kaufman – Experienced Boston Marathoner
Patricia, an IronMan triathlete, has done the Boston Marathon a handful of times. Even with all her racing under her belt, Patricia says that the experience of the Boston Marathon is like no other.
Maureen Fagan – Setting and Re-Setting Goals
You met Maureen last fall when she did a bicycle touring trip. Now, we get to know Maureen, the runner. Maureen has had a number of setbacks in her running career, including getting to Boston this April.
For more information:
- Check out the B.A.A.’s website.
- Get all the details about the Boston Marathon.
- For more background, check out the Wikipedia entry for the Boston Marathon.
- Listen to Scott Simon’s interview with Mike Barnicle on NPR’s Saturday Weekend Edition.
- Listen to Higher Gear’s own Joy Sherrick’s interview immediately following the 2013 Boston bombing.
- For tips on how to approach running the Boston Marathon, visit Dark Horse Triathlon.
- If you’re a local runner not already involved, get to know the Evanston Running Club.
- Learn more about Matthew Gilson and see his photography.
- Learn more about Chicago Sports Institute, co-founded by Patricia Kaufman.
Joy Sherrick is a two-time Boston-qualifier and a Boston Marathon 2013 survivor. She will be returning to run Boston in 2015. Joy runs, but she also bikes, swims, strength trains, practices yoga and plays soccer. She is a fitness coach and Higher Gear’s own fitness guru. She is also her IronMan husband‘s biggest cheerleader.