Braving the freezing winter, a group of Harvard undergraduates are training for April’s Boston Marathon to raise money for the Phillips Brooks House Association’s Summer Urban Program as part of the Harvard College Marathon Challenge.
The Summer Urban Program is a network of ten summer academic enrichment camps for students aged 5 to 19 from low-income backgrounds, and is managed by the PBHA. For more than a decade, the Harvard College Marathon Challenge—comprised of students, faculty, and alumni—have raised thousands for causes through PBHA and other organizations like the American Medical Athletic Association.
For Kruti B. Vora ’17, a PBHA officer, the charity is the main reason for her participation in the run.
“I’ve been volunteering with PBHA since freshman fall and I have a mentee who has gone through [the Summer Urban Program], so having this first-hand experience and working with these kids really means alot to me,” Vora said.
While many are running to raise money for the same cause, others said they had additional motivations.
Joyce C. Zhou ’17 said she is running the marathon to challenge herself.
“I’ve never run the marathon before and thought it it would be a fun way to test my physical limits,” Zhou said. “I’ve seen the impact that it has on kids in the Boston.”
For many runners, the marathon is an opportunity to honor the spirit of the city of Boston and remember marathon bombings in 2013.
“My Visitas was cancelled after the bombing. My freshman year I saw the marathon and it was incredible and I became inspired by that,” Avinash Saraf ’17 said. “So it’s really been a dream come true to run the Boston Marathon.”
While a few, like Saraf and Vora, have previously run the Boston Half Marathon, both Zhou and Naomi G. Asimow ‘18 are new to the sport.
“We don’t get a ton of guidance. We figure it out on our own, but it’s nice to have a community of people also running the marathon,” Asimow said, adding that she follows a training plan she found on the internet.
Zhou added that her training plan often makes it hard to manage a schedule.
“It’s a challenge managing everything going on with senior year and school work but ultimately building in time in my schedule to run has been good,” she said.
“You surprise yourself at how easily your body copes with increasing distances and conditions. As you go week by week it doesn’t feel that different,” Zhou said.
Vora said the excitement extended past just the physical challenge.
“I’m not running to run an incredible time. I’m running mostly just for myself, for the the city, and for what PBHA means to me,” she said.—Staff writer Laszlo B. Herwitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @laszlobherwitz.