Running Toward Boylston:


“Part of what made the Boston Marathon special to me was its historical importance. I had no idea I was going to become part of that history. I wasn’t running Boston to prove anything; I was just a kid who wanted to run her first marathon.” In 1967 , knowing that women were not allowed to race in the Boston marathon, Katherine Switzer did not clearly identify herself as a female on the race application and was issued a bib number. But as you can imagine, once she was identified as a woman entrant, officials tried to physically remove her from the race but were unsuccessful. Now that’s determination! Here is how she felt during that incident: “A big man, a huge man, with bared teeth was set to pounce, and before I could react he grabbed my shoulder and flung me back, screaming, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” Then he swiped down my front, trying to rip off my bib number, just as I leapt backward from him. He missed the numbers, but I was so surprised and frightened that I slightly wet my pants and turned to run.” You can read the full story here:

The Boston marathon isn’t just a race, it’s an institution.  As you probably know, the first Boston marathon was in 1897, that’s right, more than a century ago! I can’t even imagine what kind of shoes they ran with back then. But Catherine Switzer isn’t the only famous female runner of this race. Rosie Ruiz looked great on the final mile of the 1980 Boston marathon, the problem was that she also couldn’t remember things about the run that most runners would know such as  intervals and splits. When people asked her what she thought about various things on the course, such as the crowd at Wellesley College, she just didn’t know. Hmmm, that’s suspicious right? About a week after her “win,” Ruiz was stripped of her title.

Now, have you ever heard of Heartbreak Hill? While it’s clearly not the most difficult marathon in the world, this course is known for being tough. There is a scary  series of four hills, with the last one coming between miles 20 and 21. Yep, this is right at the point where yours truly will probably “hit the wall”. It’s said there’s more “heartbreak” on that hill from lost or uncompleted races than any other spot. I can’t wait!

Being especially interested in adaptive sports, I was happy to learn that in 1975 the Boston Marathon became the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division competition. This Monday, I will run with many other disabled athletes, one of them has a special story. In 2013, Joe Bellantoni was on pace to cross the finish line right around the 4:09 mark — the time the first bomb detonated. But his marathon guide, Peter Fox, cramped up and needed to stop three times in their final mile. It held them up for five minutes, five minutes that might have saved both their lives. Here is a great article with more details:

Over 500,000 spectators will be cheering for us this year. If my math is right, that’s 80 percent of Boston’s total population! Guys, I can’t believe that on Monday I’ll be part of the 120th Boston marathon, I will write my little page in this incredible history. I don’t remember how long it took Pheidippides to go from Marathon to Athens, but it should take me about 3 hours and 45 minutes to get to Boylston street on Monday. I will proudly wear the bib #24582, I will start at 11:15 AM in wave #4 corral #1, wish me good luck!

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