Jill Cusick / Gavel Media

The Marathon That Wasn't

For the last 124 years, marathon runners have stormed down Comm. Ave. on the third Monday of April, greeted by cheers of friends, family, and strangers all the way down the 26.2-mile stretch. The only time that the Boston Marathon was not run on Patriots' Day was in 1918, when the marathon was replaced with a military relay.

This year, however, America’s oldest marathon had to be postponed in September due to the ongoing pandemic. 

While the Boston Marathon is one of the largest annual sporting events in the world, it is especially important to the culture of Boston College. Marathon Monday is one of the most highly anticipated days of the school year at BC, and it means even more to students running it.

Since the marathon has only been postponed rather than canceled, most of the BC students planning on running it will still have the opportunity to do so on September 14th. 

Still, there are many who will no longer have the ability to run it. Graduating seniors and study abroad students are among those whose window of opportunity will be closed due to the pandemic.

Evan Fagan (Class of 2022), who is slated to go abroad to Egypt in the fall, is one of those who will no longer be able to run. Fagan ran a qualifying time of 2:50:26 in September. He resumed marathon training in January, eventually building up to 70-mile weeks. 

While marathon training is always difficult no matter the conditions, Fagan said that the course work at Boston College made it all the more difficult. 

“Since we were in school, it was difficult to find the time to fit in training runs. Long runs can take up to several hours, fitting them in between classes was tough… I was basically fitting in my 15-20 mile runs in any chunk of time I could.”

While Fagan has run another marathon, he maintained that it just doesn’t compare to the one in Boston. “Anyone can sign up for a marathon and run it,” said Fagan, “but to be able to run Boston means you really have to put in the work.” 

With a qualifying standard of 3:00:00 for men and 3:30:00 for women, Boston has the fastest standards of the major annual American marathons. On top of that, most runners need to be a few minutes below the standard to have a legitimate chance at earning a bib.

Fagan is still only a sophomore, so he is still aiming to qualify for the Boston Marathon in his senior year. Yet, not everyone will have that same opportunity. 

Carmen Martin, a graduating senior, was slated to run for the Campus School.

Although she ran cross country and track in high school, Carmen Martin had never run a marathon, but it had always been something on her checklist. 

“I’ve been a volunteer at the campus school since freshman year. There have been runners every year since then, so I always thought that would be a goal to reach because I love the campus school and love running.”

For Martin, Boston Marathon’s cancellation was disappointing in multiple ways.

“When it was postponed, I had been working so hard and it was so close. I had been training for the past two months, so that was disappointing, and the fact that we couldn’t raise the money for the Campus School was disappointing as well.”

Martin continued to say that the COVID-19 pandemic also forced the Campus School to cancel two of their other spring events, further dampening their fundraising efforts.

Though Martin will still have the ability to run the Marathon after she graduates, there’s something different about running it as a Boston College student.

“Having mile 21 there is really fun as a BC student. All your friends are there cheering you on, the campus school students are all usually there too. It’s great having all that support rather than being just another typical runner.”

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Jake McNeill