Every year, the Tufts Marathon Team gives out 100 marathon bibs to Tufts seniors, staff, alumni, parents and graduate students. These bibs are always highly sought after by the Tufts community, but this year, the team was overwhelmed with applications in light of last year’s tragic events. Members of the Tufts community wanted to be a part of what was already shaping up to be a year of redemption, strength and perseverance.
University President Anthony Monaco, at an April 12 Fan the Fire event honoring the marathon team, thanked the team for the determination.
“If I’ve learned one thing from [Tufts Marathon Team] Coach [Don] Megerle, it’s that if there are obstacles or setbacks, we persevere.” Monaco said.
After they were unable to complete last year’s marathon due to the bombings, 57 members of last year’s Tufts Marathon Team opted to run the race again this year. These participants made up the Team of 57, according to Mergele, who joined the 100 members of the Tufts Marathon Team at the race yesterday. These runners, along with the 5,000 other participants who could not finish 2013’s race, arrived at the starting line hoping to finally finish what they started after months of training last year.
“It’s not like … [those runners] dropped out,” sophomore Jimena Sanchez Gallego, who finished the marathon with the team last year, said. “It’s not like they got injured. It was someone actually restricting [them] from something [they] wanted and trained for so badly. I think … crossing the finish line will be amazing for them.”
Megerle, who has coached the team for 10 years, discussed his motivations in sponsoring the runners who were not able to complete the race.
“I just want to connect with these kids,” Megerle said. “They felt that they failed, [that] they didn’t make it, they didn’t complete it. And psychologically, that’s very difficult.”
Mackenzie Loy (A ’13), a member of last year’s marathon team, was stopped at mile 25 last year. Loy, however, committed to another eight months of training this year to have the chance to finish the 26.2 miles.
“As far as training goes, I just wanted to make sure I take advantage of this opportunity,” she said. “One, to run Boston again is insane, but two, with the support, with the environment the fact that we need to finish it just for closure … I really want to make sure I do that justice.”
While many runners were aiming for a top finish time or a personal record, Loy said that this year is more about the experience of the marathon itself.
“You’re not really running Boston for time this year,” she said. “When you see [Coach] Don at mile nine, when you see your family at 16, you’re going to stop, you’re going to hug them, you’re going to say, ‘Hi,’ and then keep going.”
In addition to those who were prevented from finishing last year, many members of the Tufts team participated in the marathon for the first time yesterday. Senior Emily Cannon, a marathon team member and Boston native, explained why she wanted to run this year.
“I always thought it would be really cool,” she said. “How many people can say they’ve run a marathon? And to be able to not only run a marathon, but to run a marathon in the city that I love after what happened last year makes it that much better.”
Senior Rachel Chazin-Gray, another first-time runner on the Tufts Marathon Team, reflected on last year’s events and how the Boston community came together after tragedy.
“I was abroad last year, and it was really strange,” Chazin-Gray said. “Talking to everyone about the aftermath from really far away was hard. But coming back and seeing that nothing has brought us down was really cool, and I’m really happy to be part of that Boston Strong momentum.”
Despite the whirlwind of emotions surrounding this year’s event, Megerle said he worked hard to keep his team focused on the task at hand.
“People keep asking me what’s different about this year from last year, and I said really nothing,” Megerle said. “We don’t talk about the bombings, we don’t talk about the restrictions.”
Megerle reiterated the importance of looking to the future instead of to the past, in order to honor both this year’s marathon, and marathons to come.
“We don’t talk about it, because if that’s all we talk about then [we’re] imposing these things in [the runners’ minds] to think about,” he said. “By thinking about it all the time, you anticipate the negative, and I’d rather them enjoy it.”12