Keep Fit: Running for the Boston Marathon on the East End

The Boston Marathon—April 21—is just over three weeks away, and the anniversary of the 2013 Marathon—April 15—is just over two. It still gives me chills to think that I was in Boston the day before the marathon last year, indulging in pre-marathon running celebrations with friends who raced the next day. Thankfully they—and the scores of spectators I soon realized I knew—were all right.

Like so many, I furiously attempted to score one of the 37,000 official numbers to race this year, in a showing of solidarity with the entire running community. It makes me smile to think that thousands shared my idea, even though the increased interest meant that securing a number was even tougher than usual. Though I’m left to celebrate the event in a different way, thankfully there are options:

Run with RunKeeper
The app, which calls Boston its home, has launched a campaign to get its users to collectively log 118 million miles. (For those of you keeping track, this is the race’s 118th anniversary.) RunKeeper is a free app that allows users to keep track of mileage, pace and distance while also syncing with your iTunes library. The app has expanded outside of its namesake running and also includes an option to keep track of such “cross training” activities as biking, elliptical, hiking and walking. All activities are included in the 118 million miles challenge. Just power up the app before you begin your workout.

Donate to The One Fund
The One Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity established soon after the 2013 marathon to assist the needs of victims and families. The One Fund is in the process of determining long-term needs of all affected, and it will announce future plans once the assessment has been completed. Alternatively, you can donate to my friend and former Wake Forest teammate who is running in support of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at runDFMC.org/2014/cristinarichard.

Run Boston 2015
I still maintain that the best way to show support for the Boston Marathon is to run it, and I’ll keep trying until I get there. The most surefire way to guarantee entry is to qualify by running another marathon: For women ages 18–34, the standard is 3 hours, 35 minutes (8 min, 12 second miles); For men ages 18–34, the standard is 3 hours and 5 minutes (7 min, 3 second miles). But Boston registration is done in waves, and in years past, you’ve needed to surpass the qualifying standards by at least five minutes in order to truly guarantee your entry. Registration for the 2015 Boston Marathon opens in mid-September, so get training!

The other way to punch your ticket to the event is to secure a charity number, but this is where things get dicey. Affiliated charities are given a certain number of entries to give to people who pledge to fundraise. I understand that a nonprofit is going to give their numbers to the people who pledge to raise the most amount of money. But this year, the demand for race numbers was so high that many nonprofits charged you a fee to apply for a number, and some didn’t accept anyone who pledged less than $10,000. As someone who really hoped to run the race in 2014, the whole process was disheartening, but I can’t say that I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.

Follow the Elite Runners
Though the Elite Field is subject to change, as runners evaluate their training and injuries as the race gets closer, the American field is stacked, giving us another chance to end our decades-long winning drought. (An American hasn’t won since the early 1980s.) On the men’s side, American Ryan Hall enters the race with the fifth-fastest time in the field (2:04:58). On the women’s side, Desiree Davila Linden’s personal best marathon time of 2:22.38 makes her the eighth fastest in the field.

Run the Shelter Island Run
The 35th annual Shelter Island Run will be held on Saturday, June 21, and it has historically had strong ties to Boston. The epic 10K draws international participation, and in years past, two of the Boston Marathon’s most famous winners—Joan Benoit Samuelson (1979) and Bill Rodgers (1975, 1978, 1979, 1980)—have run. Last year, the race honored the victims of the 2013 Marathon. Head to shelterislandrun.com for additional information on the 2014 race.

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