After two years, participants run in-person at 125th Boston Marathon

Annah Chaya, news staff

After cancellations, postponements and a “virtual experience”, the Boston Marathon finish line returned to Copley Square Oct. 11. 

For John Guilfoil, CEO of John Guilfoil Public Relations LLC and adjunct professor of journalism, the return to an in-person race was a sign of strength for the city. 

“The marathon being held is an encourageable sign of life in our community,” Guilfoil said.

Benson Kipruto and Diana Kipyokei, both Kenyan natives, won the men’s and women’s professional divisions with times of 2:09:51 and 2:24:45 respectively, making it the eighth Kenyan sweep since 2000. Marcel Hug and Manuela Schär of Switzerland won the men’s and women’s wheelchair races with Hug finishing with a time of 1:18:11 and Schär finishing in 1:35:21. 

It had been 910 days since runners and spectators last congregated in the streets of Boston for the world’s oldest continually run marathon — the last in-person race was held April 15, 2019. 

The April 2020 marathon was postponed from its annual Patriot’s Day date because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In an effort to still hold the marathon, the Boston Athletic Association instead held a “virtual experience” in September 2020. This virtual format was a first for the marathon and only the second modification the marathon has experienced. The first major modification was during World War I, which changed the marathon to a military relay race.  

While there were hopes of a normal race in the spring of 2021, fears of COVID-19 once again led to the cancellation of the April date and the eventual postponement until Oct. 11. 

This was not Guilfoil’s first experience with the Boston Marathon. In 2013, he worked for former Mayor Thomas M. Menino as his deputy press secretary. After being at the finish line in 2013 and experiencing the Boston Marathon bombing, he immediately pivoted into the public relations mindset in order to try and restore calm to the city. 

Guilfoil returned to the marathon in 2014 and said he chose to run it because he wanted “to be a part of something so positive after something so negative.”

“Running the Marathon in 2014 helped me come full circle,” Guilfoil said.

With the world trying to get back to normal despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Guilfoil said the in-person Boston Marathon was a sign of strength for the city. 

Guilfoil also said the training process for this year’s marathon was very different in comparison to previous years — in part due to the timing of the race. 

With the marathon usually taking place in April, the preparation process includes getting used to running in cold, wet weather. This year, however, many runners had to train for the race by running in the hot and humid conditions summers bring.  

Runners experienced decent weather on Monday, with a high of 69 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. While the wind brought a chill to the air, it was nothing compared to years past when the participants experienced snow storms or heat waves while running the marathon.  

Kevin Situ, a doctoral candidate in physical therapy, decided his first time ever running a marathon would be in Boston.

“I grew up in Boston, so I kinda wanted my first race to be the Boston Marathon,” Situ said. “I’m also running for charity, just fundraising money for the YMCAs around here like the Huntington Y and all the other YMCAs around Boston.”

Situ received a charity bid from the YMCA of Greater Boston and raised 102% of his goal, hitting $10,200. Charity bids are sponsored by big companies and runners who are accepted receive an invitational entry that waives the qualifying time requirement. 

Jade Law, a third-year pharmaceutical sciences major, also ran the Boston Marathon for the first time on a charity bid. She ran for the Massachusetts General Hospital pediatric cancer unit, an institution that she regularly volunteers at. 

“I was notified in April [of the bid], so I was able to train a full eighteen week plan,” Law said. “The energy [of the marathon] was insane the whole time.”

Unfortunately, Law said she  suffered from unexpected cramps early on in the race but was still able to finish the marathon. 

With postponements and cancellations of marathons across the world, many of the major qualifying races to be an Abbott World Marathon Majors six-star finisher landed within a short time frame. The Chicago Marathon was Oct. 10, immediately preceding the Boston Marathon. The New York Marathon will take place Nov. 7. 

The 2022 Boston Marathon is scheduled to take place on its usual date, April 18.