On April 20, also known as Marathon Monday, the Tufts Marathon Team (TMT) participated in the 119th annual Boston Marathon. The course started on Main Street in Hopkinton and stretched 26.2 miles, ending on Boylston Street in Boston.
According to TMT’s Crowdrise fundraising page, the group raised $405,698.00 this year. Since the team’s inception in 2003, it has raised more than $4,554,711.00.
According to TMT Coach Don Megerle, 100 runners were chosen for TMT from over 400 registered runners. The selected group of runners was comprised of 70 undergraduate and graduate students from several Tufts schools, 20 alumni, five “friends of Tufts” and five staff members, Megerle said.
Megerle has been coaching at Tufts for 44 years, and for 11 of those years he has been associated with TMT. This year marks the first time ever that all Tufts runners wearing a yellow singlet finished the marathon — an extraordinary achievement, Megerle noted.
“Approximately 125 runners wore the coveted TMT yellow singlet,” Megerle told the Daily in an email. “The additional 25 [runners] were qualified runners; … runners who received a number from another charity and chose to wear a Tufts singlet.”
Although the 100 percent completion rate is unprecedented, Megerle has coached 99.6 percent of the 2200 runners he has overseen during his time coaching to the finish line, he said.
For many TMT runners, the weather was no deterrent from having a good time, as they trained through the winter, according to Megerle.
“The team trained from September 2014 through April 2015,” Megerle said. “The team did not miss a day of practice due to the wintry conditions.”
In an email to the Daily, TMT runners Kyle Parzich, Brenda Lee, Alison Berman and Maddy Ball — all seniors — described their most memorable experiences running this year’s marathon.
Parzich noted that he was extremely cold prior to the race because he forgot to bring his gloves, but he said members of the Tufts community were very helpful in supporting runners.
“It was extremely cold prior to the start of the race, and my hands had started to get numb because I hadn’t thought to bring gloves,” Parzich said. “I texted one of my friends, [senior Meg Byrne], who was able to get gloves from the Executive Associate Dean of the Tufts Veterinary School [Joseph P. McManus], with whom I’d previously had no interaction. I was then able to grab them from [Meg] at the Tufts mile 9 stop. So I’m really thankful to both of them for that.”
Parzich, Lee, Berman and Ball all expressed their gratitude for the support they received from the Tufts community and from their families.
“Mile 9 was incredible, getting to see coach Don there and being greeted by so many Tufts fans — it really felt like home … but I know I was bummed that my parents couldn’t make it, so [the fact] that there were so many other parents and friends there meant a lot just to feel like people had my back and genuinely wanted the best for me,” Lee said.
Berman credited the support on the sidelines for helping her push to the finish line.
“Nothing can compare to crossing the finish line, but it was incredible seeing my family at mile 9,” she said. “Then two of my best friends jumped in around mile 22 and really helped me get to the end.”
Ball noted that there were many memorable moments that completed her Boston Marathon experience.
“Every mile brought a different crowd, a different challenge,” she said. “Some highlights for me included: the start, as we were all in good spirits, mile 9 with all the Tufts parents and our coach, mile 13 with the screaming Wellesley girls [and] mile 24 with a surprise from an old friend.”
Many of the runners expressed their admiration for coach Megerle.
“He’s an amazing person, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Parzich said. “His dedication to the marathon team is incredibly impressive. He would go out to and set up aid stations for our team runs, provide buffets of food for us post-run and arrange buses so we could train on the course and learn the topography.”
Parzich was not alone in his sentiments.
“Everyone on the team would agree with me when I say that coach Don is a saint and one of the greatest supports,” Lee said. “I don’t think any of us could have done this without him. His constantly positive energy, encouraging emails and great advice, his dedication to making sure everyone feels taken care of and his tireless efforts to set up signs, rest stops and take photos to document our experience while never asking for anything in return is really amazing.”
Lee added that coach Megerle is a true friend and that she is very thankful for all of his support.
“He signs a lot of his emails with, ‘Your pal, Coach Don’ and it’s so true — he really is a friend I feel comfortable sharing my life with and I am very thankful to have had him be such a huge part of my senior year,” Lee said.
Ball encouraged anyone looking to get involved and run the Marathon next year to “do it.”
“That’s honestly the best advice,” she said. “Even if you have limited experience running, the Tufts Marathon Team can train you to this point. Commit and stick with it. Oh, and as coach always says, ‘run with friends.’”