In any other city, the mile marker just stands as a marathon.
Chicago, New York, Los Angeles. It just another race. However, in Boston, it means something more.
“If someone talks to you about marathon running, they don’t ask you about Chicago. They ask you if you’re a Boston qualifier. It’s a standard.”
Crossing the finish line at the Carmel Marathon on March 31, 2018, junior biology major Chris Meyer, junior architecture major Katie Fedoronko and junior chemistry and pre-medicine major John Brown punched their tickets to Boston.
Brown clocked in at 2:58:00 and Meyer finished at 2:59:36, around six minutes ahead of the men’s 2019 qualifying time of 3:05:00. Fedoronko finished with a time of 3:24:00, 11 minutes above the 2019 women’s qualifying time of 3:35:00.
For the trio, some had their focus set on qualifying for Boston, while others were there just to run. After being cut from qualification in 2018 due to the high number of people trying to run, Brown focused on making it to New England in 2019.
“Halfway through, I wasn’t worried,” Brown said. “I was hitting pace and I wasn’t tired. Around mile 16-18, I started to get tired and every second started to count. About mile 22-23, I knew I was going to qualify and break 3 hours … It wasn’t until right at the end when it started to hit me, and the second I crossed the finish line, I broke into tears.”
While emotions overtook Brown, Fedoronko said she wasn’t even focused on qualifying for Boston. Because the Carmel Marathon is a race most Ball State run club members take part in, she said she was treating the marathon as just another race.
“I wasn’t actually trying to qualify,” Fedoronko said. “I was dealing with some injuries and I wanted to run my best race. About 17 miles in I realized that if I kept my pace I would qualify, and be well under the time. I gave it my all and it worked out.”
Meyer, however, has been dreaming about running in the Boston Marathon for a long time.
“I remember thinking about this in elementary school. I would watch it on TV, look for the results and track some of my favorite marathon runners," Meyer said. “It’s always been my dream goal to make it to Boston. I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that I'm going. It’s such an amazing feeling.”
With all the recognition and tradition that comes with running the Boston Marathon, there is a sense of difficulty as well. For the upcoming 2020 race, the Boston Athletic Association dropped both men’s and women’s times by five minutes to 3:00:00 for men and 3:30:00 for women.
In all the training and preparation going into qualifying and racing in Boston, the group said they’ve received a tremendous amount of support from their fellow runners, family and friends.
“This is the third year that the club has had someone run in Boston, so there are now seven people who are going to or have run the marathon,” Brown said. “It’s a great community and the people who don’t run distance will come out with signs and support us. My family is great and they’ll make fun of me, and friends are always wanting to know [about] my next race and if I heard back from Boston and [they] watch if they can’t go.”
As their supporters prepare to make the trip to Boston in less than a month, the three are still continuing to prepare themselves to run.
“We’ve been training for 18 weeks,” Fedoronko said. “We gradually increase our weekly mileage starting at eight miles and working up to 19. We’ll go on short runs and long runs.”
Beyond competing, Meyer said he is excited to experience the community surrounding the marathon, especially after the five-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.
“That was a huge tragedy in the running community and just in general,” Meyer said. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the support from the city and how much the city has grown from it and bounce back.”
With just 17 days left before the race, the three are balancing both nervous and excited feelings.
“Don’t psych yourself out,” Brown said. “The nerves aren’t bad until the night or day of the race and you just have to calm down. You need to know that you did the training and go out to perform. Come, don’t overthink and just run.”
Contact Jack Williams with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.