Three North Alabama runners share their thoughts on the Boston Marathon

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April 21—For three runners from Limestone County and northern Alabama, running has become an important part of their lives, and the Boston Marathon was an event that positively impacted their experiences.

The three runners share their experiences and insights with one of the world’s best-known races, which has become a milestone for many runners to be #BostonStrong since the tragic 2013 bombing near the line. arrival.

Chris Ramden

Ramsden went to the Boston Marathon in 2015, where he made a name for himself by transforming into the de facto Captain America of the race by donning a shirt with the superhero’s famous shield.

“When the crowd saw Captain America, they would cheer me on. I would give the kids a high five. It was so much fun,” Ramsden said.

He first traveled to Boston for the marathon in 2015, two years after the 2013 bombing tragedy.

Many runners, including Ramsden, feel a special connection to the Boston Marathon, as the townspeople go to work for “Patriots Day” and everyone remembers who passed and how great it was. important to cherish life.

“People treat runners like they’re celebrities,” he said. “That’s what makes this race so special is the support from the crowd.”

However, due to the events of a few years prior, security was also tightened which made it more difficult for spectators, including Ramsden supporters, to get close to the race and led to less interaction with the runners.

While the weather that day wasn’t ideal for the runners, everyone took advantage as they realized they were racing for something more important than an official race time.

If all goes well, he hopes to qualify for the race again in 2024 or 2025.

One of the reasons the Boston Marathon is different is that runners cannot just show up to the event, but tens of thousands of runners must qualify for the marathon based on qualifying times.

The year he raced, Ramsden said there were about 32,000 runners with him.

For Ramsden, completing the Boston Marathon is the achievement of a goal he set for himself once he set out to get in better shape, trying to set a good example for his three children.

“I started running in December 2009 after losing form,” he said. “Since then, I’ve been running.”

Mike Pepper

Pepper ran the Boston Marathon aged 57 in 2018, five years after the attack. He braved cold temperatures on race day, but having his family – and even friends – make the trip with him, combined with the good people he met along the way, made it all worth it.

According to Pepper, race day was the “worst” weather for the Boston Marathon in recorded history, which was 118 years old at the time.

“(It was) 38 degrees; it was windy and pouring rain. I loved every minute of it. These people lined the streets and cheered us on the whole way and I kicked it in hands. The conditions were tough. A lot of runners struggled. I finished in just under four hours, which was slower than the one I ran to get there. But, given the conditions , I was satisfied.

Much like Ramsden, the people of Boston welcomed the runners and their families with open arms.

“The Bostonians we met were wonderful and so kind. Nothing else like it.”

Moreover, he says that the bombing remained in the memory of all those who took part in it.

“So the shelling was on your mind, but it didn’t cloud the race,” he said. “I think that’s what the planners and even those who were there during the attack would want.”

The Peppers decided to take a trip out of the event.

After he qualified, his family found a travel plan that worked for them, finding an Air BnB in Back Bay, Boston, Mass.

The icing on the cake of the race, her daughter was proposed by her son-in-law at the finish line of the marathon.

According to him, qualifying is one of the most difficult parts, because the race is hard to do, “regardless of age”.

He says about 35,000 people ran that year.

“You have to run a BQ (Boston qualifying) marathon to get there. Even if you take your time, you might not be able to go. The year I qualified, so many people did their BQ, that they had to push it back about 2 minutes to get the number they could manage.”

Pepper started running at an early age and hasn’t slowed down since, covering thousands of miles and staying active regardless of location.

“I started running at 13. So a lifelong runner. I participated in several sports in high school (at Athens Bible School). Running sports were track and field and cross While I was there, we were runners-up in ’77 (A-2A), and won the state in 1978 and 1979. I was also state runner-up in the 2-mile in 1979. I’m totally hooked. It’s my happy place,” he said.

“Since I started doing the training that eventually led to Boston, I’ve done about 13,500 miles in about 5 years. I’ve done 2,800 miles last year.”

Does Rodgers

Rodgers has a different perspective on the Boston Marathon than the two aforementioned runners, as he has coached and trained several people who have participated.

“I haven’t raced Boston yet. I’ve qualified there many times, but with family and work commitments, I haven’t made it to race there yet,” he said. “In the last nine years of training, I’ve probably had over 100 athletes qualify for the Boston Marathon. This year, our team sent eight athletes to Boston and of those, five live in the metro area. of Huntsville (Matt Casiano, Josh Cornett, Tommy Morris, Paul Vest and Sarah Wall).

Rodgers runs the company RunningLane, where he coaches and coaches runners to reach their potential.

RunningLane was started in 2012 by himself, Sean Allan and Brandon Mader, who were all college teammates at UAH, where they competed in cross country and track and field.

“Our purpose and our life’s work is to help others achieve their running goals and to curate unforgettable running experiences for the running community to enjoy.”

Helping hundreds of athletes reach that potential also includes the Boston Marathon, which he treats with the respect he deserves. He also recognizes its importance to his athletes.

“What I love most about training marathoners is that for many the Boston Marathon is their Olympics. They give their time and energy and I’m grateful to be able to play a small part for help make their dreams come true,” Rodgers said. “To me, the Boston Marathon is a symbol of perseverance. The amount of dedication and hard work required to run a marathon is something only 0.20% of the American population accomplishes each year. Of those, only 12 % will qualify for Boston. Zooming out and thinking about it, it shows how special this event is. Going back to the tragic bombings of 2013, it’s also a story of perseverance.

While Rodgers is currently very busy raising his young family and running his business, Rodgers says he plans to run marathons in the future and wouldn’t rule out the Boston Marathon, which he’s sworn for. is previously qualified.

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