Veteran Boston Marathoners on the Topo Team lend their wisdom to runners racing Boston for the first time
For those of you gearing up to run the Boston Marathon on Monday, we gathered a few stories, tips and highlights to look forward to from our very own veteran Boston Marathoners here at Topo HQ and on our ambassador team. We start with our CEO and founder, Tony Post, who has ran the Boston Marathon nine times (twice as a “bandit” back when they let you do that as long as you didn’t go through the finishers’ chute and mess up the finish line)!
“In college at University of Tulsa in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I used to visualize myself running the Boston Marathon. During hill workouts, I used to imagine myself competing against Bill Rodgers, Randy Thomas, Tom Flemming and so many other great runners from those days. Little did I know that I would move to Boston a couple years later and become part of the local running scene.
New England has been my home now for 35 years now and I’ve run the Boston Marathon nine times (twice as a ‘game day decision’ bandit — they used to let us do that back then if we didn’t mess up the finish line). I got invited to the 100th, which felt really special. I was able to ‘pre-race’ stretch and fuel in the basement of a little white church on the left of the start line with many of those famous older runners I admired — Bill Rogers, Joan Benoit, Greg Myer, and so many others, it’s one of my favorite Boston Marathon memories.
My favorite part about the Boston Marathon is the rich history and tradition behind the event – you really feel it if you are a runner living in New England. I love working the expo and meeting people who come here from all over the world — in some cases training for years to reach this special moment in their lives. New York, London and Paris are all amazing races in their own right, but nothing has the history and prestige of Boston!
AND, it’s also the unofficial beginning of spring in New England, which can’t come soon enough! The Celtics are usually in the playoffs, the Red Sox are playing, and winter is finally over!”
If you’re running Boston for the first time, know that halfway is not halfway! Keep some gas in the tank so you can attack the last 5-6 miles. It’s so easy to get overly excited when you hit Wellesley, but if you are able to hit the hills with good energy, then start passing people on the downhill side of Heartbreak (BC Campus on your right). You will have an amazing run for the finish line. The last 10 miles are packed with people, the city comes alive before you, AND it’s mostly downhill! Nothing feels as good as finishing strong at Boston!”
Photo: Tony Post with then masters runner Paul McCarthy in 1983 when they were both members of the Coastal Running Club
From our veteran Boston Marathoners on the team, a common piece of advice they had for first-timers is to stay calm and steady in the first half. It’s hard not to binge on the contagious energy of the best group of spectators you could ever ask for in a race (seriously, there isn’t a dead spot on the course!).
Our operations and service specialist, Tara Caley, had this to say about her Boston experience:
“Something that I wish I knew before I raced my first Boston Marathon was to take it easy on the early downhills in the race. By the time I got to mile 13, my quads were so beat up from going too hard when it felt easy. I couldn’t wait to get to the Newton hills to give them a short break from absorbing the weight of each stride. People think they need to prepare for the uphills in the latter half of the race, but it’s important to also prepare your body to run those downhills. Also, when you get to Beacon Street after Boston College, don’t look at the Citgo sign because it never seems to get closer!
But the right on Hereford, left on Boylston was the greatest feeling. At that point, you can see the finish line and the cheering from the spectators are overwhelming. No matter how much pain you are experiencing, it’s hard not to be overcome with emotion and pride as you take those final strides towards the finish.”
Photo: Tara logging in a BQ at the Santa Rosa Marathon
Ambassador Gary Allen ran his first Boston Marathon in 1979 (running his fastest time of 2:40:04 in 1988) and this year will be his 25th Boston! Gary is also known for being the first person to run the Boston Marathon course by running it on New Year’s morning for the past 13 years. When people ask why he does it, he says:
“It just makes sense to me to start the year at one of the most recognized and revered starting lines in the world. Plus, just as like the U2 song, all really is quiet on New Years Day along the Boston Marathon route, nary a car to be seen!”
When we asked what he loves about the Boston Marathon, he said:
“The Boston Marathon is like a homecoming, once you’ve competed in it a few times you start to notice entire generations of families along the route in the exact same place every year. This race is bigger than self and it’s an absolute privilege to earn a spot in the starting field.”
Photo: Gary with 1953 Champion, Keizo Yamada, from Japan
Ambassador Kyle Robidoux will be running his fourth consecutive Boston Marathon as a qualified runner with Team with Vision. He is also running the course TWICE on Monday to prepare for an upcoming ultramarathon:
“I always tell first-timers to take in as much of the crowd’s energy and excitement as possible and run even effort (not pace) up the hills.
I cannot wait to make that big sweeping right-hand turn onto Comm Ave by the Fire Station, being greeted by the wall of screaming spectators, and beginning to tackle the Newton Hills!”
Photo: Kyle clocking in a PR at Boston 2016
The last time ambassador Yvonne Carter ran the Boston Marathon, she did so without knowing the cartilage in her hip was torn! Now, this repeat qualifier is returning this year to run with a friend and improve her time. When asked what she’s looking forward to the most about running the race this year, she said:
“The 50th anniversary of Kathrine Switzer’s historic run and Meb Keflezighi’s last Boston marathon.”
Photo: Yvonne qualifying for Boston at the 2015 L.A. Marathon
Vu Trang is another repeat Boston Marathoner. In fact, this will be her 7th Boston Marathon since 2010. She only skipped 2015 after the birth of her second child:
“This is a race that is so special to me, and I will run it every year I am able to qualify. I’m looking forward to the best crowd support in all of running. I remind people to not start out too fast. The first downhill miles will feel easy, but you need to save your quads for later.”
Photo: running Vu Trang running Boston 2014 three months pregnant wishing Meb luck the night before he won
And we’d like to welcome Beverly Zalan to the Boston Marathon club! Beverly qualified at the Big Sur marathon last year, her first EVER marathon! Despite very tough conditions (hello head winds!) she broke the 4 hour qualifying time for her age group:
“Everyone I knew told me it was not an opportunity to be missed, so here I am! I can’t wait to be part of such a storied event!”
Photo: Beverly qualifying for the Boston Marathon at The Big Sur Marathon
Good luck runners! Be sure to come by the Topo booth (#2019) at the expo and say “hi”!