Runners can dedicate months or even years to training for a marathon. Every movement, every step is planned and taken in hopes of finishing a grueling 26.2-mile race. To finish is the reward of all the time spent working towards a goal.
There was nothing that could have prepared four local runners for this year’s Boston Marathon.
Tommy Kell, James Zahn, Sarah Hoover and Anne Hunter Myers were all able to finish one of the most grueling marathons in the race’s 122-year history. The quartet faced rain, sleet, frigid temperatures and wind gusts reaching 50 mph while running through the streets of Boston.
“I consider myself a survivor. Mother Nature threw everything it had at you,” said Kell, who completed his second Boston Marathon and 30th marathon overall. “The weather was disappointing. You put all the training in and get up there with high expectations, only to get to race in those conditions.
“It’s so cold you can see your breath and the wind is blowing. It was some of the worst weather I’ve ever seen in competition.”
The local runners were on hand to witness a historic event, with Des Linden becoming the first American female to win the event in 33 years. Linden’s time of 2:39:54 was the slowest winning time in 40 years, something each local runner could understand after competing in the freezing temperatures.
Kell and Zahn, longtime training partners, went in hopes of eclipsing a mark of three hours, 30 minutes. Once the race started, it was just about finishing.
“I was proud to finish under those circumstances,” said Zahn. “I was disappointed with my time, but I knew I was off my pace. My feet and hands were freezing. I was running in a trash bag. It was by far the worst conditions I’ve ran in.”
Still, inspiration was everywhere for the runners.
“When you look to your left and to your right, you’re surrounded by runners,” said Zahn. “I thought to myself that if they could finish, then so could I.”
“You have to finish. This is like the Super Bowl or Daytona 500 of running,” said Kell.
Kell finished with a time of 4:03:46, while Zahn was just ahead at 3:58.15 in his seventh trip to Boston for the event.
Hoover was the fastest of the local runners, crossing the line at 3:34.58. Myers finished in 3:46.09.
Over five percent of the starting field wasn’t able to complete the event, though Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi seemed to thrive by taking the overall win with a time of 2:15:58.