One week after Marathon Monday, the seven student runners profiled in The Heights’ “Day After Day,” reflect on running the Boston Marathon.
At the finish line, Emma Howe stopped to catch her breath. She had just finished her first Boston Marathon, a goal she’d had for many years, and successfully raised money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. With this done, many runners would have doubled over, grabbed some water, and tried to recover from the ordeal they had just gone through. But Howe caught sight of her dad standing just past her and immediately took off sprinting.
“I almost hyperventilated because I was kind of crying,” she said.
They reached each other and hugged past the finish line. After promising to run the Marathon for him three years ago, when he was diagnosed with cancer, she had reached the culmination of that promise.
The Marathon had been difficult, but Howe remembered her cause and was motivated by the runners surrounding her. She had spent the past months training alone in the cold weather, and to suddenly be surrounded by hundreds of people all striving for the same goal kept her going through the hardest parts of the race. Crucially, the people around her were all part of her division: people running for charity.
“Knowing that everyone around you is running for a cause was so, so cool,” she said.
Bennet Johnson had already achieved much of his goal before he started the Marathon. He had set out to raise $10,000 for Special Olympics Massachusetts and managed to surpass that total by more than 20 percent. The money will benefit people with special needs, such as Johnson’s brother Sam. Having achieved this, he went into the Marathon wanting to finish.
The morning of Marathon Monday he had a run-in with Boston College legend Doug Flutie. They met before starting the race and spoke about Flutie’s foundation, which also helps children with autism. When the race began, Johnson’s dad got on the T and followed his son along the route, finding him four times during the race to cheer him on as each mile grew harder to complete
In his first Marathon, Johnson finished in four hours and 40 minutes, a satisfying time considering the effect of the heat.
“I literally saw some people like pass out or faint,” he said.
After the halfway point, he started to lose his pace, but kept going so he could make it to BC before “hobbling” the final five miles to the finish.
“Heartbreak Hill was as bad as everyone says,” he said.
Despite this, he credits the Marathon as an amazing experience that he might think about repeating—once he takes a week to recover.
Hannah Bowlin was prepared for the excitement of passing BC, but what she didn’t realize was the impact of passing the Wellesley “scream tunnel.” At Mile 12, the Wellesley College students line the route, holding signs and screaming at deafening levels as runners pass. Experiencing another college tradition on the route kept Bowlin going the extra miles to BC.
“Emotionally and physically I was preparing for Mile 21 and once that was over it kind of like a crash on both of those accounts,” she said.
She slowed down through Mile 22, but once she caught sight of the Citgo sign a mile ahead, she knew she was close and could stick it out until the end. One reason she kept going was the charity she ran for: the Boston Children’s Museum. She reached her individual fundraising goal and her team also raised its collective goal.
“We were able to help a lot of these kids reach the museum in ways they might not have been able to otherwise,” she said.
When asked, she immediately and definitively said that she wants to run the Marathon again.
“Anyone can do it,” she said. “Anyone can run if they really want to.”
Passing Linden Lane, Sean Kane heard someone yelling his name. He turned and saw Campus School volunteers standing alongside the road, representing the cause he was running for. As he ran by, they snapped his picture and reminded him of why he was running in the first place.
“They made it worth it,” he said.
The parts of the race when there weren’t people cheering him on, around Miles 7 through 10, were the hardest parts for him. It wasn’t the soreness or the thirst, but the need to stay motivated until he reached those exceptional moments like Linden Lane.
After BC, he kept going and managed to achieve his goal time, under four hours, which he was satisfied with but also wishes was even better. He’s already planning to run another marathon, hopefully in less heat, so he can beat the time he set.
“No marathon will be like Boston,” he said.
At the time of this interview, he is still actively fundraising for the Campus School and is already promoting new events for this upcoming week. His fundraising campaign is continuing until May 31, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
But for now, he’ll never forget running his first marathon.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” he said. “It was incredible.”
To get through the hardest parts of the Marathon, Kathryn Lieder thought of Ryan, the young cancer survivor for which she ran.
“It was so exhausting, kind of hit a wall, but it was so cool to think of him and his perseverance,” Lieder said.
During the race, Ryan, who was in Florida at the time, tracked her progress. The day after Marathon Monday was his birthday, and Lieder thought about the importance of running for a charity that helped Ryan and kids like him. She has almost reached her fundraising goal for her charity, the Adventure Project, which provides physical training to young cancer survivors.
“It was really energizing just running for a charity and knowing that I was doing it for a greater cause rather than just running it to run it,” she said.
She completed her goal—to finish the race—and is thinking about running again in the future. One thing she would change is her training. As she suffered a knee injury shortly before the Marathon, she would like to learn better training practices and take a shot at another marathon if she gets the opportunity.
“It’s such an amazing experience to see the 85-year-olds who are out there, the blind runners who are there with guides,” she said. “It’s really motivating … I’d love to run another one.”
Maddie Perlewitz was sick around Mile 5 of the Marathon. It wasn’t the best start, seeing as she had 21 miles left to run, but she kept going and it didn’t stop her from achieving a goal.
“I finished in four hours, 22 minutes, and 59 seconds,” she said. “So that’s better than I thought I would do.”
That wasn’t the only goal she achieved. She surpassed her $10,000 fundraising goal for 261 Fearless as well. The organization, named after the bib number of the first female runner, Kathrine Switzer, had a particularly memorable year, as Switzer ran the Marathon again this year at age 70. Perlewitz’s fundraising goes toward promoting female empowerment through running.
Miles 23 to 25 presented a particular challenge for Perlewitz, as they did for many of the runners. At Mile 23, she lost feeling in her quads and had to keep moving for three miles in order to finish. Despite the difficulty, she stayed motivated to keep running and experience the last of the three moments that many of the runners look forward to: Wellesley, BC, and the finish line.
At Mile 21, nearly done with his second Boston Marathon and starting to feel the effects of the heat and sun, Carson Truesdell saw his friends lining the road cheering him on.
“It’s moments like that where you realize why you run and why the Boston Marathon is special,” he said. “I can do other marathons, but I won’t really have another experience like that.”
Alongside uniformed soldiers walking the marathon route, amputees running, and students raising money for charity, Truesdell felt a sense of unification that he’s never felt running somewhere else. It was the last time he would run the Boston Marathon as a BC student, and he took in these special moments.
Despite not doing as well as he had hoped, about 10 minutes slower than his goal, he is still happy about running the Marathon. As a “type-A personality,” he plans to keep working to achieve what he knows he is capable of in the years to come.
“I finished the Marathon and I’m like ‘I’m never doing this again,’” he said. “Then you start to feel better, you start to not feel delirious, your headache goes away … you start to think about it more, and you’re like ‘I want to do this again.’”
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor