BC Runs On Tradition
Published: Sunday, October 20, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 20, 2013 23:10
Boston College students always seem to be on the run—literally. Whether it’s by the Res or along Commonwealth Ave., one can always spot someone going for their daily run. If you were to ask someone why they run, they may offer several explanations—it clears your head, it keeps you active and healthy, and it allows you to enjoy some beautiful scenery.
But if you were to ask that same question to a student who is nearly in tears after just completing her first Boston Marathon, or a group of friends who sported red bandanas at Saturday’s 5k run to honor the legacy of a 9/11 hero, you might get very different responses. Students who have participated in these annual races have various goals in mind, but these individual causes tend to merge with the masses in the midst of the run—everyone is running toward the same finish line, after all.
So what are these motivations that get students up and running? It’s not just the morning cup of Dunkin’ coffee—the thing that students really run on is something more intangible, something greater than the students themselves.
BC Runs on the Cause
“I almost didn’t finish myself,” recalls Jim Andersen, chair member of the Campus School Marathon Committee and A&S ’14, of his first Boston Marathon during his sophomore year. That was the year when Marathon Monday had temperatures close to 90 degrees, forcing many of the runners to take extra precautions. Despite the brutal weather conditions, Andersen still had a great experience, and ran the marathon again the following year. He plans on running his third marathon this spring.
Andersen was a runner in high school, so when he decided to be a spectator rather than a runner his freshman year at BC, he found himself missing the runs, and was eager to take on the challenge of training for the marathon.
Laura Simko, A&S ’15, had the reverse experience of Andersen—she ran the marathon freshman year and opted not to run her sophomore year, but couldn’t stand just watching.
“Freshman year, I actually hated running,” Simko said, but was dragged along to one of the Campus School meetings and was eventually so far into the training process that she hit a point of no return. As a high school swimmer, Simko is accustomed to daily regimens and “crossing the pain threshold,” as she puts it, and now runs regularly, about three to five times per week.
Andersen notes that training runners for the marathon is only one of the organization’s goals—the other is to fundraise for the Campus School, a non-profit, special-education day school for students ages 3-21 with multiple disabilities.
“My main goal training every year is to raise the money for the Campus School, and I’m hoping that what happened last year [with the bombings] will motivate people to run who wouldn’t have run it otherwise,” he said. “I look forward to transferring that motivation that people have for the city and applying it to the Campus School. The enthusiasm for the physical goal will translate to enthusiasm for the good that they are doing.”
Simko also noted that these individual motivations often merge together, as everyone ends up running for some common cause. This year, she’s running as part of a patient-runner program through Boston Children’s Hospital, and she is greatly affected by the various circumstances that bring everyone together for the marathon.
“During the marathon freshman year I started crying, not because I was in physical pain, but because I was so moved by everyone’s causes,” she said. “Everyone has their own cause, whether it be for a sister or a friend, but in the marathon everyone’s causes comes together.”
BC Runs on Determination
It’s no surprise that BC students carry their hard-working, goal-oriented mindset with them outside the classroom and onto the streets of Boston during such races as the marathon.
“I really like having athletic goals, and I always had those when I was in high school,” Simko said, who also recently ran the BAA Half Marathon. “I really like how I feel when I’m running, and when I’m done running. Runner’s high is 100 percent true. It’s such a release.”
“My high school track coach told my mother that before I graduate from BC, I would run the marathon,” said Christopher Petroff, A&S ’15. And his coach was right—Petroff has run the Boston Marathon twice, the Hartford Marathon, and is training for the Philadelphia Marathon next month.
“I think having the race as a goal keeps me motivated, so I keep running every day,” he said. He also noted a distinct difference between the Boston Marathon and that of Hartford, Conn., which did not have quite as many spectators.
“For the Boston Marathon in general, there’s so much support all the way around the course,” he said.
BC Runs on Community
Over 800 students signed up this year for the Welles Remy Crowther Red Bandanna 5k, the largest amount to participate thus far, according to Nina Tehranian, student coordinator for the run and CSOM ’15. Crowther, BC ’99, organized a rescue effort and helped save several lives during the attacks on 9/11, and was known as “the Man in the Red Bandanna” for the bandanna that he wore to cover his nose and mouth from smoke. To celebrate his heroism, the Crowther family established a charitable trust in his memory, which is funded by events such as the annual 5k.
“It’s almost like a fall event at BC,” Tehranian said. “Everyone knows about it, and you feel so involved in the school as a participant.” After running freshman year and realizing the impact that such a race has for the community, she wanted to take on a volunteer position. Tehranian and the other student coordinators are responsible for publicizing the event, organizing supplies through vendors, and reaching out to various campus groups and club sports teams to participate annually in the run.