A baseball player injured in last year’s bombings who returned to raise money for the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Fund. A men’s lightweight crew coach who ran all 26.2 miles while undergoing chemotherapy. An 18-year-old sailor who was the youngest runner in the field. An assistant hockey coach who was given a bib to raise money for Parkinson’s disease. An assistant baseball coach who finished with a qualifying time and made his team’s Beanpot game against UMass immediately after. This handful of Harvard athletes and coaches all had one thing in common: they left their primary sports on Monday to participate in the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Kyle Larrow, second baseman on the baseball team, stood near the finish line last year watching his girlfriend, Danielle Reny, finish the marathon. When one of the bombs went off 10 feet from where they were standing, Larrow suffered severe burns and had shrapnel lodged in his legs. Danielle’s sister, Gillian Reny, suffered much more serious injuries, but her mangled legs were ultimately saved by doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
This year, Larrow and Gillian’s family and doctors, teamed up to run in honor of the Stepping Strong fund, which the Reny family started to fund research for similar trauma type events that they experienced at last year’s marathon. The team ran together for the entire 26.2 miles and passed the bombing location and finish line holding hands.
“I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t incredibly emotional,” Larrow said. “I knew it was going to be a powerful moment before we ran and it exceeded expectations.”
Marathon running is out of Larrow’s element as a baseball player accustomed to running in 90 feet segments. Although Larrow trained up to 18 miles, he had to cut back for the six weeks before the marathon once his baseball season picked up.
“I’m definitely not a self-proclaimed distance runner,” Larrow said. “But I pretty much ran on the backs of the people cheering around me from mile 18 on.”
Linda Muri, men’s lightweight crew coach, was also lifted up by the crowd support and especially the cheering of her rowing team in the final mile. Despite receiving a breast cancer diagnosis six weeks ago and beginning chemotherapy just three weeks ago, Muri decided to follow through on the commitment she made to run last year.
Matthew Mollerus, a freshman skipper on the sailing team, earned his spot in the marathon by raising money for the American Medical Athletic Association through the Harvard College Marathon Challenge. Mollerus had to balance his training runs with sailing practices and races, especially in the weeks leading up to the marathon when the sailing team entered the heart of its season. At 18, Mollerus was the youngest entrant in the marathon this year.
Hayley Moore, assistant coach for the women’s hockey team, knew that after the events last year, she definitely wanted to run Boston this year. She also knew she wanted to run to raise money for Parkinson’s Disease, as both her aunt and grandfather are suffering from it. At first, she didn’t have a bib and she couldn’t find a charity associated with Parkinson’s.
Eventually, she found a family that receives a complimentary entry each year and wrote them a letter about why she wanted to run for Parkinson’s. They were generous enough to give her the bib. Her next challenge came with balancing training and coaching.
“Our [hockey] schedule isn’t very consistent as far as travel goes and with recruiting on top of that, so I could be doing my long run on a Sunday or Tuesday or Saturday,” Moore said. “I had to learn to be flexible and just hold myself accountable.”
For Moore, the highlight of the race came at mile marker 16 when she saw her aunt who she was running for and stopped to take pictures with her.
“It was the only time I stopped throughout the race,” Moore said. “I had to swallow my pride a little bit, but I stopped and took a moment to take it all in because she was the reason I was there.”
Morgan Brown, assistant coach for the baseball team, had previously qualified for the marathon. Brown’s finish time of 3:02:08 on Monday was not only enough to qualify him for next year, but also to allow him to make the baseball team’s Beanpot Championship against UMass that same afternoon. The Crimson went on to defeat the Minutemen and claim its first Beanpot Title since 2005.