Boston Marathon can be a reality with a little planning
Earning an entry to the Boston Marathon is a formidable task that 60 Alaskans have achieved this year. The 118th running of the Boston Marathon is set to have approximately 36,000 athletes, which is just 2,000 shy of the record field during the
1996 centennial celebration. The surge in participation seems to be a rallying cry by runners for their beloved race and its city after last year’s terrorists attack. The cowardly act killed three and injured 260, just as the athletes were nearing the finish line. Six Alaskans who were on track to finish the course that day are returning to complete their race, and seven more are coming back to show their support and no doubt hope to better last year’s performance.
Add 47 more Alaska athletes, and we clearly demonstrate our love for this iconic race and willingness to step up with the rest of the world to show we will not be intimidated by mindless violence.
Tragedy has a way of galvanizing the American psyche, and of inspiring runners and nonrunners alike to help those in need. The “One Run Boston” fund was created to assist those impacted by the bombings, and donations continue to pour in. The innocence of our sport was shattered last year but the resilient spirit of runners remains intact, or forever fortified by the horrific attack. Runners will never cower behind locked doors; they will always lace up their shoes to face the day’s challenge.
The Alaska contingent this year offers a good cross-section of the entire state with representation from the Bush (Bethel and Nome); smaller communities such as Kodiak, Palmer, Chugiak, Willow, Soldotna, Kenai, Eagle River and Douglas; and rounded off by the larger cities of Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage.
These tough men and women are dedicated individuals willing to chase a dream despite challenging environmental and logistical conditions. Find a complete list of these brave souls on the race website www.bostonmarathon.org. No need to enter a name: Just query Alaska in the database for this year’s entries, and all 60 names will appear. You can also find the current qualifying standards for entry to the event. Increased popularity of the event in recent years has prompted race officials to stiffen the qualifying times.
Certainly, every contestant has a noteworthy story to share. Common training themes emerge, long runs in frigid temperatures, repetitive ascents up staggering hills, and speed sessions on tracks and trails. Nothing is accomplished in a vacuum – family, friends and the community come together to herald their achievement. Here is a snap shot of some of this year’s participants who dared to dream of running the Boston Marathon.
Husband and wife: Jerry and Monica Ross two outstanding local runners. In 2011 Jerry posted a 2:24:32 good for 25th place overall. Monica is a 2012 Anchorage Heart Run Champion with a time of 17:32.
Father and son: Brad Richie (age 60 and his son Tom, 40) will spend some quality time in Beantown. Wow! Both are running at the start of a new age group. Look for some serious competition here.
Rural Runners: Kathleen Pelkan of Bethel is returning to finish the race she started last year. Representing Nome is Crystal Tobuk. Talk about culture shock – the buildings will look like mountains and the crowds like spawning salmon. No sensory deprivation for these two.
Young and old: The speed of youth is represented by two 23-year-olds, Anchorage residents Erin Phillips in the mens division and Valarie Kirk for the women. At 76 years young, Jim Madonna toes the line from Fairbanks, and Liz Freeman, 65, from Palmer returns to cross the finish line this year since the course was closed prematurely last year. Both offer emotional and inspirational experiences.
Team Competition: Copy deadline cannot confirm that a Skinny Raven Sports Team will be in the field but the buzz around town and at the pub runs over the past six months makes it plausible. If the Skinny Raven flies, a top 10 finish is well within their talons.
So, what makes running the Boston Marathon a bucket list goal for so many runners? Memories of my last race in 2002, while a resident of Dillingham, are still fresh. I have to say it’s the people of Boston that make the race so special. They come out in full force every year creating block party for 26.2 miles with continual shouts of “Good job, go for it!” making you feel like a rock star or superhero. The race starts slowly with a blast from the starting gun. The corrals housing several thousand runners edge forward in a steady surge. Gradually, you begin to be swept away in a flood of humanity charging downhill shoulder to shoulder for the first five miles, nearing the midpoint the women or sirens of Wellesley College cheer and tempt with an incessant cry heard a half mile away.
Soon a series of hills rise up to test your resolve, and the last climb, christened Heartbreak, tries to crush you. However, as a tough runner, you gather yourself and press on for the final six miles.
Near Fenway Park, former baseball fans join the festivities and now cheer the marathoners. Striding on, the giant Cyclops or CITGO sign looms overhead, the prize is within reach now. The final mile absorbs you, alone in thought with the roar of the crowd vibrating off the building all the way to the finish line. Your skin tingles and perhaps a tear of joy will be shed; the long-awaited dream is now fulfilled. Savor it. Be grateful. And above all, congratulations.
– Keep Striding and
Footnote: Coach Mike will be joining Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runners World on April 10 to run Leg 298 of the One Boston Relay. It’s a hilly 12 miles at night to support those impacted by last year’s tragedy. You can donate to the cause by going to www.onerunforboston.org select donate, runners name is Michael Halko. Miles of thanks.