Harvard Defeats Heartbreak Hill

At Boston Marathon, students, tutors raise money for PBHA, other organizations

For some students, it’s enough to say “I went to Harvard,” but an elite few can now add “I finished Boston” to their list of achievements.

Cheered on by friends, family members, and Wellesley girls offering kisses, over 22,500 official runners and many more “bandits” running without bar-coded bibs raced 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to downtown Boston yesterday. The bibs allow event organizers to track injuries and hospitalizations.

While the marathon’s top contestants finished in a little over two hours, Harvard students and staff joined runners from 94 countries and all 50 states in the 110th annual Boston Marathon.

Their stories from along the track tell of far more than the minutes and seconds displayed on the clock as they crossed the finish line, surrounded by thousands of exuberant fans celebrating Patriot’s Day and the race.

“I liked finding people I knew, both in the race and in the crowd,” said runner Josanna D. Weeks ’06. “I enjoyed running through Brookline because I grew up there.”

First-time marathoner Andrew D. Einhorn ’07 said his favorite part was the kids giving him high-fives as he ran by. He remembered one “little girl who was obviously just starting to read managed to read my name off my shirt.”

Both Einhorn and Weeks ran the marathon to raise money for the Harvard College Marathon Challenge (HCMC), an organization founded this year. Over sixty Harvard undergraduates, graduates, and tutors collected pledges, totaling between $500 and $1000 per runner, to support Project HEALTH and the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA). Four runners also ran to raise money for Harvard China Care, with donations funding an orphanage in the Fujian Province.

Training for many of Harvard’s runners began last fall while others started last week. Einhorn said that the community of runners “makes a big difference,” and that he had probably gone on about ten training runs with the HCMC.

But former “fun czar” and current Project Manager Loker Commons Planning and Program Development Zachary A Corker ’04 decided to run the marathon just last Thursday.

“I bought these shoes on Wednesday,” he said, “and I went for an eight to 12 mile run on Thursday.”

Although Corker and his friend Ford S. Harrington ’05 finished the marathon in about four hours, Corker “would not recommend” the limited training regimen.

Michael V. Tucci ’06, also started training about a month ago after receiving an e-mail on the Leverett open-list mentioning open spaces with the HCMC.

“Despite the fact my legs are sore and that I won’t be able to walk for a week, I’m really happy I did it,” Tucci said.

Wrapped in space blankets sporting reasons to run the marathon, such as “The shiny blanket,” “A well deserved rest,” and “I finished Boston,” Harvard’s contingent of racers said that they were proud of their run and would all do it again.

“It was really nice for me personally to raise money for PBHA because I’ve done a lot of work with different programs,” Weeks said.

Fans also said they were caught up in the excitement. Beverly S. Stenson ’81, who came to watch her daughter, Jackie E. Stenson ’08, race, said that “everyone on the sidelines was cheering for each other’s family members and friends.” In particular, the elder Stenson enjoyed the halfway point, where she said many runners celebrated the mark by dancing.

Jennifer M. Neeper ’08, who ran the last five miles with Stenson and participated in the marathon last year, said she would recommend running the race to anyone.

“It’s such an experience,” Neeper said, “and Boston is the best place to run a marathon.”