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CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? Medical student Nombulelo Magula crosses the finish line.
photograph by Spencer Leonard

Up to the challenge
Marathoners pound pavement for nutrition

Jennifer Miura, E06, doesn’t miss a beat when asked about her first Boston Marathon.

"I will never forget it," says Miura, whose parents, both experienced marathoners, came out from Hawaii to join her in the historic run. "Running the last stretch down Boylston and crossing the finish line was one of the best feelings ever. I may do another marathon, I may not. Either way, I can proudly say that I finished the Boston Marathon."

Miura was one of 200 Tufts faculty, students, staff, parents, alumni,
and friends who joined President Lawrence S. Bacow at the starting line on April 17 for the 110th running of the Boston Marathon and the fourth annual President’s Marathon Challenge.

Tufts runners raised more than $900,000 during the first three years of the challenge, and more than $423,000 has been received in donations and pledges so far for the 2006 run, according to Eric C. Johnson, executive director of development, who ran his fourth marathon challenge this year.

This year’s runners joined forces to support the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and nutrition, medical, and fitness research and education across Tufts.

That mission in the past has attracted a wide range of runners, from experienced to novice, and from all corners of the Tufts community. This year was no exception, with the team consisting of 102 students, 41 alumni, 26 faculty and staff members, 10 parents, and 21 friends of the university.

Most of the Tufts runners came from the Boston area, but others hailed from destinations as far away as San Francisco, Dallas, and Algiers.

WE MADE IT! Jennifer Miura, E06, of Hawaii, with her parents at the finish line.
photograph courtesy of the Miura family

Throughout the winter, Boston-area team members got in shape thanks to expert support from Miriam Nelson, N87, director of the Center on Physical Activity and Nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and through training runs led by Don Megerle, former swim coach and director of the President’s Marathon Challenge. Trainees also had the benefit of some top-notch expertise in building fitness when they attended nutritional seminars hosted by faculty of the Friedman School.

In addition to the runners, another 300 to 400 members of the Tufts community served as volunteers and cheerleaders along the 26.2-mile Hopkinton-to-Boston route. More than 100 friends cheered the team at the nine-mile mark, thanks to the hospitality of Dr. David McGrath, G83, V86, a university trustee and overseer to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

"I got a big lift every time I passed a Tufts water station, Dr. McGrath's Animal Hospital, the buildings hanging Tufts banners, or the hordes of Tufts fans who lined the course," said Bacow, in his congratulatory note to runners on the Presidential Challenge website. "I must have heard a thousand people call out,'Go Tufts, go Jumbos!' "

Among the top overall finishers was Tufts School of Medicine student Scott Loomis, running apart from the Tufts Marathon Challenge team, who finished 41st with a time of 2:28:48—the fastest runner from Massachusetts.

Other runners were just thrilled to see the welcome sight of Copley Square, and the throngs of well-wishers gathered at the finish line. Rebecca Scott, director of the Office of Gift Planning at Tufts, combined her training with child care, pushing her daughter in her baby carriage on the sidewalks of Medford as she logged the miles. "Ruth was 9 months when I started training in September and about 15 months when I finished," says Scott. "We trucked through sun, rain, snow, and slush. My final time was 5:34:17, and I was very pleased!"

Perhaps the spirit of the race, and of the consisent "can-do" attitude of the Tufts team, was best summed up by Bacow the day after the race, when he wrote these encouraging words on the Presidential Challenge website: "I suspect that many of you are nursing aches and pains this morning. It will pass. There is an old saying among marathoners, 'The pain is temporary, but the pride is permanent.' Bask in
the glory of your accomplishment.
You have earned it."