Running For the Fun of It

It's elite, intense and grueling. Is it Harvard? No, it's the Boston Marathon.

Many dedicated Harvard men and women will run in this year's Boston Marathon, pushing themselves--and each other--to new levels of exertion.

Although a 26-mile run hardly sounds like a walk in the park, many Harvard students participating in the marathon say the experience is not only rewarding, but fun.

"What I especially like about the Boston Marathon is that there's a buge crowd. After mile five it's like running through a party," says Caspar Brnt, a Lowell House tutor of mathematics.

"It's grueling, but there's a lot to see along the way," senior John H. Boit says.

Although running in the race may be enjoyable, completing a marathon still requires a special mind-set.

"I think I'll have to collapse before I stop short," says Boit, demonstrating the mind-over-matter determination characteristic of many of the runners from Harvard.

"It is very psychological," senior Stephanie V. Levin asserts. "In fact, almost all of it is psychological. I really think anyone can finish a marathon--it just depends on how long you decide it's going to take you."

In contrast with Levin and Boit's purposeful, pragmatic attitudes, freshman Scott R. Sheffield's thoughts belie a more philosophical outlook.

"I guess I'm approaching this new distance with the sort of mystical fear with which one might approach a barrier such as the speed of sound," Sheffield muses.

Sheffield has done runs of up to 20 miles to train for the marathon, an experience he describes as particularly uncomfortable.

"When you train for a big run, it's like grating a block of sandpaper along your thigh," Sheffield says. "But by the end of the year you're going to have a pretty wonderful patch of leather there."

While attitudes about the marathon vary as much as the marathoners themselves, running with partners was an integral part of the training for most students.

Levin and Boit have been training together for the past three and a half months.

Although Levin first interested Boit in training for the marathon, Boit has helped keep Levin going on the longer runs, goading her on if she begins to fall behind.