The 127th Boston Marathon on April 17 featured a field of 30,000 runners ranging from those running their first marathon to Eliud Kipchoge, the world record holder for the fastest marathon. One thing all of these runners have in common is their passion and love for the sport and their sheer determination to complete one of the toughest things that a human can do.
Two Tufts seniors, Sam Schrage, who ran his sixth marathon, and Anthony Bruno, who ran his first, certainly embodied all of this. These qualities carried them through their training process leading up to the Boston Marathon as well as through the race from start to finish.
With so many runners from around the world all in one place at the starting line in Hopkinton, Mass., Schrage was struck by the exuberance and passion all of the racers exuded.
“It’s such a cool experience because even though it’s a good amount of time in the cold, you’re just with so many people who are just so cool and interesting,” Schrage said. “Everyone comes with a different story, and I find that runners are really friendly people.”
The good-naturedness of the running community extended to the supporters who came to watch the marathon as well. The cheers that Bruno and Schrage heard throughout the course, especially toward the later miles, were critical in keeping them motivated to finish the grueling race.
“My coach Johnny [Gregorek] was there with the entirety of the New Balance Boston pro team. And when I [went] by, they went absolutely insane,” Schrage said. “It was really cool that a group of like 12 pro runners went insane when I went by.”
Bruno and Schrage are both founders of the Tufts Running Club and serve on the club’s executive board, and many of the club members were present at the Puma Cheer Zone at mile 24.2. Schrage felt proud to don the Tufts Running Club singlet during the race.
“It was my last opportunity to wear the Tufts singlet from the club team. … It meant a lot to me, but it was emotional, to say the least,” Schrage said.
Although the marathon training process for both Schrage and Bruno was grueling, the running community surrounding Tufts helped them prepare physically and mentally for race day. For Bruno specifically, having Schrage as an experienced marathoner in his corner helped him immensely.
“Having the very detailed schedule laid out by [Schrage] was helpful,” Bruno said. “Between the club running team and the marathon team, that’s six days a week where I have someone to run with.”
Bruno also cited how critical the Tufts Marathon Team and coach Donald Megerle were in inspiring him to complete his first marathon.
“I can’t overstate how great of a resource Don is and how helpful he is to everyone. Whether you’re running Boston or Providence, … he’s got wisdom. He’s always got the food and the stuff for you. And he is so helpful. He’s such a great asset to this university,” Bruno said.
Each race comes with its own challenges and learnings, which is something Schrage is still finding out even after his sixth marathon.
“You always have to remember that so many things can go so many different ways in a marathon, especially with the changing courses, and a time on one course is not a time on another course,” Schrage said. “It’s something that I have to remember.”
As much as someone can train for a marathon, there is still a lot that they cannot predict and prepare for, especially because a marathon will always require you to push your body to the limit.
“From miles 20 to 24 I had to take a bunch of walking breaks and I was like: Am I just gonna keep getting more and more tired? I’m doing it more walking than running,” Bruno recalled. “I was able to fully run the last two and a half [miles] without stopping. I felt good.”
Even though this level of physical taxation may seem intimidating, according to both Bruno and Schrage, running a marathon is still worth it.
“It’s so intimidating at first but the more you run, and the more support you get, the more you realize it’s absolutely doable,” Bruno said. “As long as you’re willing to put in the work, you will be fine. Don’t not do it because it’s too hard.”