The Boston Marathon, the oldest one of its kind in the world, was a tough one last week for Cayman runners.
Nevertheless, they all had a thoroughly good time and according to Beth Schreader ‘the race weekend was an incredible experience!’
She said: ‘It was everything I expected and more. Sunday morning Dan (my boyfriend) and I went down to the trials course at approximately the halfway point.
‘We watched the lead runner go through and then the lead pack went by about two minutes later.’
Watching top woman runner Deena Kastor competing in person was exhilarating for Schreader. ‘She makes it look so effortless. We then went a couple of blocks north and were able to watch them go by again.’
Schreader ended up with a great souvenir. One of the runners tossed her water bottle just after mile 14. ‘It landed near the curb where I was standing so I scooted out and swiped it. We then went into the Expo and came out about an hour or so later when the race was ending. We were right by the finish line and I watched Joan Benoit Samuelson cross the line in under 2 hours 50 minutes. It was a very inspiring morning!’
Monday was Marathon day in Boston for casual runner and it was unlike anything Schreader had ever experienced. The risk advisory services manager at KPMG had been training for months for this moment and savoured every second.
‘I bundled up in lots of layers at 5:40am and walked about half a mile from the hotel to the Boston Common, where school buses picked up all the runners and transported us to the start of the race in Hopkinton.
‘You don’t realize how far 26.2 miles is until you drive the distance. I remember thinking ‘Wow! I have to run this far back.’
‘The bus dropped us at the Athlete’s Village at about 7:00am. I found a spot in one of the tents and set up my camping chair, so that I wouldn’t have to sit on the cold, wet grass.
‘I had a few garbage bags with me (in case it rained) and made quick friends when I offered them to people to sit on who didn’t come with anything. The next two hours passed quickly as I chatted with the other runners.’
It was still cold and cloudy when the announcer came on the speaker and instructed the wave 1 runners to head to the baggage buses. Schreader found her bus and hesitantly discarded some of her layers of warmth. It was still cloudy out but at the last minute she decided to run with her sunglasses. That turned out to be a great decision as right before the gun went off the sun came out.
‘I made my way to corral 7 and huddled in there with the other 999 runners with bib numbers in the 7000s. I tossed my sweatshirt to the side of the corral right before the official start of the race.’
Her top didn’t go to waste. The volunteers collect all of the clothing the athletes leave behind at the start and at the Athlete’s Village and donate it all to charity.
As with all big marathons, the start of the race was quite congested for the first few miles, as there are thousands of runners on the relatively narrow road.
‘But, this helped me in not taking off too quickly, especially since the start is primarily downhill.’
The crowd really got behind all the runners along the entire course. ‘It was phenomenal. From mile 1 to 26.2 there were spectators everywhere. They were cheering all of us on and encouraging us to keep going.
‘I high-fived as many kids as possible. There were people handing out water, sliced oranges, bananas and even freezies. I had my name written on my arms and it was motivating to hear ‘Go Beth!’ or ‘Keep moving Beth!’ from complete strangers.
I wore a KPMG singlet so I also heard a lot of ‘Way to go KPMG!’.
The race started off well and she was on pace for a great time through the first 11 miles – until Schreader collided with another runner who had dropped one of the bottles from his fuel belt and turned around to get it.
‘I was right behind him and didn’t have a chance to react. My leg got caught in his and my knee and ankle twisted as I fell over.
‘I braced my fall with my arm and ended up jamming my shoulder. After that, my pace dropped significantly. I went through the halfway point at 1:37.
‘I knew there was no way I could run a personal record so I adjusted my goal to keep my time within the qualifying range for 2009 and to not injure myself any further.
‘That left me with just over two hours to run the second half, which I knew was easily achievable despite the pain I was in.’
As expected, the notorious Newton Hills were tough. ‘I really struggled through those four miles and just kept thinking of making it to the next mile marker.
‘When I got to mile 21 at the end of Heartbreak Hill I was relieved to have made it past the most difficult part of the course. Then I was motivated to get to mile 23 as quickly as possible because that is where Dan and my parents (who drove down from Toronto) were going to be waiting to see me go by.
‘When I spotted them I knew I had a good cushion to make a 3:40 finish so I stopped for a couple minutes to tell them what happened and to take a few pictures.’
The final three miles were a big struggle for Schreader though. ‘I kept looking for the Citgo sign, which is the landmark that represents only one mile to the finish. The crowd at this point was four to five people deep and they were just going crazy for all of us running by.
‘The final turn onto Bolyston Street was overwhelming. As soon as I made that left turn the finish line was in sight and the roar of the crowd gave me goosebumps.’
She crossed the finish line in 3:33:34. ‘I was disappointed because I know I’m capable of doing better but at least I have secured a spot for next year.
‘I’ve recovered well and thankfully did not sustain any long term injuries as a result of the collision.’
Mike Ridsdale and Eduardo Torres ran incredible times on such a challenging course. They did much better than I did.’
Total finishers 21,963
Schreader: 3:33:34 (overall: 7,580, gender: 1,486)
Ridsdale: 2:54:56 (overall: 706, gender: 682)
Torres: 3:07:47 (overall: 2,078, gender: 1,948)