Undergrads Join More Than 20,000 Marathoners

E. MICHELLE Metallidis

Amidst a sea of shiny silver space blankets, runners of all ages gulped water and gnoshed on fruit and energy bars as they recuperated from their 26.2 mile trek from Hopkinton, Mass. to the heart of downtown Boston for yesterday’s 107th running of the Boston Marathon.

Some looked exhausted and others seemed energized, but all declared satisfaction after completing the course.

“It was amazing, one of the best things I’ve ever done,” said Megan A. Crowley ’05. “The crowd carried me through so much. I kept on getting the chills from all the excitement,”

Tom C. Gilmore ’06 also ran in the marathon after months of training with friend Jay Gierak ’06.

“We decorated T-shirts with our names and our school name and just got tons of responses,” he said.

Talk of resting pulse rates, negative splits, aching feet and where to eat flooded the crowd.

“What’s one more mile after 26?” one runner responded to his wife’s requests to go shopping after the race.

And while some family members had post-race plans, most fans were content to watch and cheer for the runners.

“This is like a 26-mile street party,” said Rick Gunzi, a Michigan resident who has run four Boston Marathons and 18 marathons overall.

After years of experience, he was coaching friend Lori Bush to achieve her “PR,” or personal record, in this marathon.

“It was great,” Bush said, “We ran together with some other friends and were telling stories the whole way. It was a social experience.”

And Gunzi was rewarded with a different sort of PR today, too—over eight hugs and a kiss at Wellesley.

He shared the secret to his success.

“I had two beers, Sam Adams, at the 18th mile,” Gunzi said.

Cigar in hand, he added, “My goal is to run Boston every year that I can. Boston gets more into the marathon than anyone. There are billboards, signs, advertisements everywhere. The crowd is unbroken, people nonstop.”

Several other runners echoed praises for the crowd.

“The crowd was incredible, the whole length. It was nuts,” said Jeff W. Helfrich ’03, who has run on Harvard’s varsity track and cross country teams for the past three years and took the spring off to train for the marathon.

Helfrich, who qualified in races over the summer, officially placed 129th overall, completing the course in approximately two hours and 46 minutes.

Harvard alumni also turned out for the race.

Sporting a DHA sweatshirt, Bill Madden ’94, said he felt supported as he ran.

“It’s fun to come down here with friends and family. This is what Boston is all about,” he said, beaming.

Madden, who now attends the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, started training in the beginning of March and said that it was difficult to fit marathon training into his busy schedule.

“I was hoping for a 3:10, but I finished in 3:25,” he said. “My best time is 3:01.” While Madden said he did not train as much as he would have liked, some current undergraduates didn’t train at all.

“I definitely had zero training,” said Luke R. Long ’03, who decided to run as an unregistered “bandit” runner with three friends at 10 p.m. Sunday night.

“It was definitely a spur of the moment thing,” he said.

Others crossed the finished line after much more preparation.

Julia H. Fawcett ’04 said she began training in November and ran an average of eight miles a day, six days a week.

“I was going to run last year, but I was injured,” she said. “I didn’t think it was going to be as painful as it was, but I made it.”

Long also experienced some pain, “Muscles I didn’t know I had are now cramping,” he said, “but it was incredible.”

“It’s the farthest I’ve ever run in a sustained period,” he said. “Everything hurts.”

Would he run it again?

“Never again,” he said. “But it was a great experience. It was awesome that we survived. I recommend everyone doing it before graduation, just to say you did it.”

—Staff writer Faryl W. Ury contributed to the reporting of this article.

—Staff writer Wendy D. Widman can be reached widman@fas.harvard.edu.