On Oct. 11, many Boston College students woke up earlier than usual for a Monday morning, dressed up in funky outfits, and crossed Commonwealth Ave. to party on off-campus streets. After 910 days, Marathon Monday had returned.
Some BC students, though, woke up with a different agenda—to begin a 26.2-mile run. After over two years without an in-person Boston Marathon due to COVID-19, certain students embraced its return by deciding to run it themselves. After fundraising and training throughout the summer and fall, they tightened their shoelaces and affixed numbered bibs to their clothes. Here are their stories.
Shevanna Yee, MCAS ’22, was not a runner in high school, she said. But over eight years ago, on April 15, 2013, Yee’s world changed when her cousin, Lingzi Lu, a then-graduate student at Boston University, died tragically in the Boston Marathon bombing.
Lu’s extended family established the Lingzi Foundation, which is based in Boston, in Lu’s memory. The foundation seeks to provide opportunities for people who share Lingzi’s ambition and dreams through a variety of programs. The foundation also supports many local organizations that align with its mission through grants. Over time, the foundation has had many charity runners run in Lu’s memory.
Before her cousin died, Yee never could have fathomed running a marathon, she said. But, as Yee grew older, she became more inspired to run the marathon.
“Over time, like as I grew, I was able to kind of learn more about the foundation and get more involved with it, and just kind of see I was, like, really inspired by the other runners, being able to raise money and just kind of crossing the finish line for us and [our] foundation,” Yee said. “Coming into BC, I learned how big of a holiday Marathon Monday was on campus, and that kind of made me, kind of, fall in love with it more.”
Harris Craycraft, MCAS ’22, is a four-year member of the BC club running team. Since the spring of his freshman year, he has slowly been working his way up, from participating in track events, to half marathons, to finally the full marathon, he said.
Craycraft never had plans to run the Boston Marathon, but after running the Cambridge Half Marathon in November of 2019, things started to change, he said.
“That was really fun and people just started talking about training for a marathon,” Craycraft said. “And so within the club it sounded like a fun idea … It seemed like a really fun challenge. I thought the extra miles would be fun to train for.”
Craycraft qualified for the marathon at a small race in Columbus, Ohio last year, he said. Craycraft trained for the marathon both over the summer and once he arrived back on campus. In the summer, the most challenging part was training mostly alone in the Cincinnati, Ohio heat. But overall, Craycraft felt that it went really well, he said.
“Each week you win a little race,” Craycraft said. “There’s a bunch of different milestones as you go and finishing every single week is in itself really rewarding. So, obviously, the final race day is great but each week I just found a lot of satisfaction.”
As a native of Wellesley, Mass.—the halfway point of the marathon—Emma Majernik, MCAS ’22, has aspired to run the marathon her whole life. Seeing several family members and friends run in the marathon helped Majernik realize that this goal could be a reality. Majernik said watching her first Marathon Monday as a freshman is what really set the gears in motion.
“It was really like freshman year doing Marathon Monday here,” she said. “I was more invested in the runners. I was like, ‘I want to be that,’ so that’s sort of how it started.”
Majernik had trained and fundraised for the 2020 Boston Marathon, but after its cancellation, she restarted the process for the 2021 marathon. Because this marathon took place in October, runners had to train in the summer heat, which can be more difficult than training in the winter months for the typical April marathon. Majernik did the bulk of her training while studying abroad in France this summer.
“I was really nervous there wasn’t gonna be a running culture and that it was gonna be really weird that I was out running,” she said. “[But] where I was staying with my host family was close to a walking, running park area, so I was, you know, able to run there and find the trails nearby … It was a great way to explore … I got to literally see places I probably wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t been running, which is really cool.”
Running the Boston Marathon had always been on Claire Floyd’s bucket list, she said, but it being her senior year at BC, she felt it was the most opportune time to accomplish that goal.
Floyd, CSON ’22, ran this year’s virtual marathon on Oct. 8, the Friday before Marathon Monday.
She said that she had always been drawn to the idea of running a marathon because she loved the idea of setting small, weekly goals in pursuit of a larger goal.
Floyd ran cross country in high school, and prefers to run long distances at a slower pace. Running the virtual marathon suited this preference, she said, as she didn’t feel any pressure to match the pace of other runners.
“It was kind of a cool experience to be able to be just racing against myself and really like in the mindset for that, and that’s always kind of been what running is to me,” she said.
For senior Olivia Colombo, Lynch ’22, running is not a new part of her life. She grew up running throughout her childhood and into high school. Colombo, who is enrolled in a five year master’s in social work program at BC, wanted to continue running and was working toward being recruited to college, she said, when gastrointestinal health issues began to interfere.
When she came to BC, Colombo joined club running to try to keep doing what she loved, she said.
“Very quickly, I was passing out on runs and … health stuff was interfering and [I] had to kind of step down from that freshman year, which was disappointing,” Colombo said.
Her first Marathon Monday at BC was captivating, Colombo said. Despite her health issues becoming more persistent and debilitating, she set her sights on trying to run the Boston Marathon before graduating from BC, she said.
“I actually remember having a conversation at [Boston] Children’s Hospital with one of my doctors … and the doctor had gone to BC as well … and I was like, ‘I really want to do this before my senior year,’ and asking this doctor how feasible she thought that that goal was.”
For Grace Beinlich, CSOM ’22, running the Boston Marathon was not a new idea or feat. She had been through the majority of the process—from training to getting sponsored to fundraising—just two years prior. After COVID-19 derailed her plans to run during her sophomore year and since last year’s marathon went virtual, Beinlich decided to give it one more shot in her final year at BC.
After talking to her sponsor from sophomore year, the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, she knew that running was once again a possibility.
“My supervisors were like, ‘Yep, we’d love to have you, but you have to raise all the money all over again,’” Beinlich said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can … ask people to donate again’ so I … thought about it during the spring of junior year … then I was like, ‘You know what, I’m never gonna have this opportunity again,’ especially to do it at BC.”
Featured image by Fallon Jones / For the Heights
Photos courtesy of Shevanna Yee, Harris Craycraft, Emma Majernik, Claire Floyd, Olivia Colombo, and Grace Beinlich