It’s a rare Fletcher student who pursues only one out-of-class activity, and our student bloggers are no exception. First-year MALD student, Liam, is training with the Tufts Marathon Team to run in Monday’s Boston Marathon. As many readers know, this year’s Marathon will be different from the norm, coming one year after the tragic events of 2013, and giving many runners a sense of mission that goes beyond their personal best times. Here’s Liam’s report.
One of the incredible opportunities available to Fletcher students is the chance to join the Tufts Marathon Team and train for and run the Boston Marathon. Each year, the Tufts Marathon Team gets 100 bib numbers for students, faculty, staff, and alumni from throughout the Tufts community to run the race. With participants ranging from first-time runners to seasoned veterans of multiple marathons, Coach Don Megerle does an amazing job training and selecting the team, and he provides unmatched motivation and advice to ensure that all runners finish. The team supports two long runs each week, as well as a weekly speed workout, and in the winter the team takes part in five long runs that cover the entire Marathon course. By participating in these runs, Fletcher students can meet other graduate students from throughout Tufts, as well as undergrads and some great alumni and staff, helping us make connections to those we may not otherwise meet, outside the walls of Ginn library. All runners raise money towards nutrition, medical, and fitness programs at Tufts University, including research on childhood obesity at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Since the Team’s inception in 2003, runners have raised over $4 million.
This year, obviously, the Marathon takes on even more significance than it normally does in the fabric of Boston. The tragic events of April 15, 2013 united the Boston community, and each runner on the Tufts team is strongly committed to the event. The stories of a few of this year’s 13 Fletcher runners speak to how incredible this year’s race will be. Second-year Fletcher student Alex Nisetich sums up his Marathon story as follows:
I’m a Boston native, and the Marathon has always been a part of my life here. I decided to run after last year’s attack, as a demonstration of solidarity with the runners and with my home city. My own family narrowly missed being caught in the attack, and in a different year we could all have been there at the finish line. I’m running because it feels like the best way I can support my community and commemorate the events of last year.
Training has become an end in itself as well. Getting out on the road, especially first thing in the morning, is a great way to overcome any fears you might have of a New England winter. The Fletcher community and Tufts are both very supportive of the runners, which makes it a pleasure to train. The team runs really build camaraderie and make it fun.
Another second-year MALD student, Stéfane Laroche, shares a similar tale:
I have always enjoyed running and flirted with the idea of running a marathon for many years, however I never had the courage and the motivation to train. Last year’s events at the Marathon changed my perspective. The devastation happened so close to home that it touched me, and I decided to run in order to support the Boston Strong campaign. When life knocks you down, you’ve got to be strong, pick yourself up, and continue to live. It’s an honor for me to run with all those other marathoners who will pay tribute to last year’s victims and who will make a statement against intolerance and misunderstandings that fuel hatred and anger around the world.
For me, personally, I had recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan when the bombing happened. Growing up in Central Massachusetts, the attack hit home. Although I had always run in the past due to my job as an Army officer, I never contemplated running another marathon after an ill-advised and untrained undergrad endeavor in 2005. Running the 2014 Boston Marathon became an obsession for me, a way to show the world that we would not let this attack change who we are. I trained for months and ran a marathon in October in nearby Lowell and felt ready to take on the world come the Boston race in April. Then I began dealing with lingering knee and hip injuries, so my training has taken on its own personal journey, as I’ve worked to find ways to balance recovery with running and the ever-demanding life as a Fletcher student. For me, the process has been an incredible voyage of learning about myself, what I value, how hard I will work for it, and what it means to stand as one for a community.
Although every runner’s story is different, one commonality is certain — all 37,000 runners who make that 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to the finish line on Boylston Street on April 21 will do so with some pain in their legs and sweat on their foreheads, but most importantly, with pride in their hearts. With tens of thousands of supporters cheering us along the course, we will show the world what being Boston Strong is about. Being able to be a part of this has truly been one of the more remarkable aspects of my time thus far at Fletcher.
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