Running in and finishing the Boston Marathon is considered a huge achievement for runners throughout the world.
On Monday morning, over 27,000 registered competitors participated in this year’s iteration of the race on a cold, dreary day.
Imagine someone striving for a goal in a particular career which can take the duration of several months or even years to prepare for. Then, once that opportune moment has finally come, the person would persevere through anything to accomplish that life-long dream.
This is the mindset of someone competing at the Boston Marathon. Comparatively speaking, it is the Mount Everest of long-distance running. By crossing the finish line, a runner can feel like they are on top of the world.
“I thought I would be more emotional about it because I had been anticipating it for so long,” UNC sophomore Alex Proca said of crossing the finish line. “But then it kind of hit me that I just finished the Boston Marathon. For a lot of people, it's a lifetime goal to even qualify for, and me, at the age of 19, was able to finish it.”
Proca, whose training regimen consisted of running between 40 to 50 miles per week for about five months straight, finished with the time of 3:39:57. Having raced in three different marathons prior to this one, Proca was happy with her results.
“It wasn’t my fastest race,” Proca said. “But I was happy with it, especially when considering the weather. I was crying a little bit because I was so emotional."
The weather forecast was not a favorable one for the runners, as they had to endure the suffering that included sub 40-degree temperatures, 20-mph winds and a constant downpour of rain that occurred throughout the entire 26.2 mile stretch.
“Before the race even started, I couldn’t feel my feet,” UNC graduate Daniela DeCristo said of the weather elements. “I had plastic bags tied around my shoes to try to keep the water out, but even that didn’t help. I’ve ran in colder temperatures, but I hadn’t for that amount of distance.”
DeCristo, who is currently a research technician at UNC, completed the course in 3:21:50. She participated in the previous Boston Marathon as well, but she said the climate was drastically different this time.
“Last year the temperature was like 76 degrees,” DeCristo said. “So it was like a complete 180-degree turn from running it last year.”
Despite the near-freezing conditions, runners still knew that they were at that starting line for a reason – and this never shivered away their poise and conviction.
“It’s an emotional experience,” said Andrew Buskill, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky. “This is the Boston Marathon. You look back at all the work you’ve put in to get to this point, and just realize that you’re about to achieve your dream.”
Although the athletes were all determined, enduring the extreme elements for the entire race was easier said than done. For the three runners, the first 10 miles flew by quite quickly, but once they reached around the 15-mile marker, the pain really began to sink in for them.
Following their group of fellow athletes down this trail of misery while being cheered on by supporters on the side of the road, they continued to move forward till the very end.
“I think its very much like a team mentality because everybody is just trying to finish together,” Proca said. “I feel like it’s less of, ‘I’m competing with you,’ and more like, ‘We’re working on this together.’ When we run together, its just supporting one another and trying to get through those last couple of miles.”
DeCristo was also inspired by the cheers.
"Even though you’re feeling pretty miserable, you just need to try to tune out all of the noise all around and focus on getting to the finish,” DeCristo said. “I think the community just came together anyway and we all just toughed it out together.”
When the runners eventually persisted their way to the finish line, it was a bittersweet moment for everyone.
“I remember crossing that finish line. It was very cold, but very joyful. It was almost like a release,” Buskill said.
Thinking back on all the preparation he underwent and how painful completing the race had been, Buskill said that he could not help but tear up.
"I did my best just to take it all in and enjoy the moment.”