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Harvard undergraduates joined tens of thousands of runners from across the globe to complete the 127th Boston Marathon on Monday, starting from Hopkinton — a town in the MetroWest — and moving toward the finish line in Boston’s Copley Square.
The Boston Athletic Association has hosted the marathon annually since its inception in 1897, when it was first organized by United States Olympic Team Manager John Graham. The race has almost always been held on Patriot’s Day — currently designated as the third Monday of April — which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution.
This year’s race also marked the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, when extremists killed three people and injured hundreds more after setting off pressure cooker bombs at the race’s finish line. The city has since observed One Boston Day every year on April 15 as a day of remembrance of the tragedy.
To participate in the Boston Marathon, runners must have a qualifying time of at most three hours for men ages 18–34, and three-and-a-half hours for women of the same age range. Runners who fail to meet their qualifying time can still participate on behalf of a member of the Official Charity Program by fundraising at least $5,000 for a charity of their choosing.
Almost all of the participating Harvard students qualified for the race through fundraising.
Five of the students running, Maia J. Alberts ’23, Andrew C. Holmes ’24, Jacob R. Jimenez ’24, Michael D. Wallace ’22-’23, and Crimson News editor Paz E. Meyers ’25, ran for the Harvard College Marathon Challenge — a group of Harvard affiliates that fundraises for Boston-area youth and families through running. Funds raised will be donated to the Phillips Brooks House Association, a Harvard student-run public service organization.
Annie Miall ’23 ran for Mass Eye and Ear — a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. Miall said she raised $10,000, double the minimum required to qualify.
Bridget S. O’Kelly ’23, who only found out she would be running in the marathon last Thursday, made it into the race through less conventional means.
O’Kelley said she was at a Winthrop House Senior Common Room event in February when she happened to tell an alumnus that she was training for the Providence Marathon, adding she particularly wanted to run in the Boston Marathon.
“I’d seen my brother run it, and it’s a really big deal in Boston,” O’Kelley said.
“And then he was just like, ‘Well, I can get you a spot,’” she added.
After months of back-and-forth between the two over email and efforts by the alum to secure the spot through his contacts, it still wasn’t confirmed by the final Wednesday before the race. She reached out to her contact thanking him for his effort, which she assumed was unsuccessful.
“And then on Thursday I got an email that just said: ‘You’re in.’ Basically he had contacted some people who were really high up in the BAA — some former Harvard alum,” O’Kelley said, adding she was told she was the last entry when she checked in for the race on Friday.
In an interview prior to the start of the race, Miall said she associated the marathon with a sense of solidarity.
“The entire city of Boston is running — it’s not just the runner,” Miall said.
“I was just so, so moved by everyone coming out to support us running, especially everyone who helped me get this far — my friends and loved ones,” she added. “I think I burst into tears of joy five times. Maybe more — only the spectators will really know.”
Jimenez wrote in a message that he felt a sense of pride running the race as a Harvard student.
“It was very special to have a Harvard jersey and get cheered on as ‘Harvard’ by so many strangers, and I’ve never felt more proud to be a student and member of the Boston community,” he wrote.
Alberts said two standout moments from the race included seeing her blockmates — whom she heard cheering from afar — and when one of her friends “hopped onto the course” to run a stretch of it with her.
“It’s been kind of like a dream,” Alberts said.
Correction: April 19, 2023
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Annie Miall ’23 is a member of the Harvard College Marathon Challenge. In fact, she is not a member.
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