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Born To Run

marathon2006For the fourth straight year, Tufts fielded a crop of hardy marathoners to tackle Boston's famed 26.2-mile course, and all for a worthy cause.


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On a cool and dry Patriots' Day, nearly 200 Tufts faculty, students, staff, parents, alumni and friends donned yellow jerseys as members of the Tufts Marathon Challenge team to participate in the 110th running of Boston's legendary 26.2-mile race from suburban Hopkinton to downtown Boston.

This year marked the fourth year of the Tufts Marathon Challenge, which supports the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and nutrition, medical and fitness research and education across Tufts. This year's fundraising target was $400,000, and members of the team worked hard to meet their contribution goals—as well as their goals of completing the race.

"It's really a way of challenging yourself that most of us rarely get to experience," Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow said in an interview with WCVB-TV Ch. 5 a week before the race. "I have to say, when I finished my first Boston Marathon it felt like the greatest accomplishment of my life."

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.

"It was a great day," he told The Boston Globe. ''I ran five minutes faster than I did last year. I couldn't ask for anything better."

Support System

Even for those runners who don't log top times, taking part in the race has a special meaning.

"I watched my mother run the 100th running of the Boston Marathon. That was always a source of inspiration to me," first-time marathoner and Fletcher School student Jason Taylor told WCVB-TV. "So, I've decided I want to give her my finishing medal, if I am lucky enough to get one."

His mother should clear room on her mantelpiece—Taylor finished with an impressive time of 3:11:41.

As in past years, the Marathon Challenge included members of the extended Tufts family, as well. Senior engineering major Jennifer Miura (A'06) had her parents coming all the way from her home state of Hawaii to run the marathon with her.

"Since she's a senior, we decided to go up there and do it," her father, Robert Miura, told the Honolulu Advertiser.

"On a run, I'm not 'president' anymore. I'm just another runner."

— Tufts President
Lawrence S. Bacow

But no matter what your affiliation, it all boils down to the task at hand.

"On a run, I'm not 'president' anymore," Bacow told Runner's World. "I'm just another runner."

Running Boston's marathon is a trial of endurance for both spirit and body, and members of the Tufts team count on each other—and the hundreds of Tufts supporters lining the 26.2-mile route—for support before, during and after the race.

"It's like climbing Mount Everest," Bacow told WCVB-TV. "Before you do it, it's impossible to imagine actually doing it."

But he and the other Tufts runners did it. And watch out, Heartbreak Hill—next year, they're sure to be back.

marathon 2006

Tufts marathoner Isabel Arrillaga (A'08) makes the trek to Boston.

Members of the Tufts Marathon Challenge team have been keeping training diaries for the past several months. Here are some of the reactions posted to their journals upon completing the 110th running of the race:

Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow:

Marathon day looked like it would be a perfect day for running -- cool with some cloud cover. The new staggered start worked well. Instead of standing outside in our corral for an hour waiting for the start, we lined up about 30 minutes before the race and kept moving towards the starting line. We actually crossed the starting line about 10 minutes after the 12:30 start.

I ran with my son Kenny who ran with me last year. Kenny had been experiencing some IT band problems so we went out slowly and stopped a few times so that he could stretch. At mile 6 it looked like he would have to drop out but he hung in there and it loosened up.

I had a tough race because I developed an intestinal bug half way through the race. I thought of dropping out but decided to keep on going. Kenny and all the Tufts fans along the way really carried me through.

Thanks to all the Tufts supporters and volunteers who came to cheer us on. I cannot tell you how much it helped all of us. Nothing motivates a tired runner more than hearing a chorus of "Go Tufts! Go Jumbos!" You guys are the best.

Steve Eliopoulos (A'89):

WOW! It's OVER!!! 26.2-miles from Hopkinton to Boston is OVER! What an AMAZING day...from the weather, to the crowds, to the very run itself....I had the best time.

In the end, it all paid off. As President Bacow, Coach Megerle, Dr. Miriam Nelson, and others have stressed, it's all in the beginning. The race is won and lost in the very first few miles of going out too fast vs. going out properly.

I held back and held back and held back and kept all my miles at almost exactly 9:00 minutes. Suddenly, after the halfway point at mile 13, I started to come unglued. My legs, calves, and quadriceps started to burn with lactic acid.

So, I had to mentally fall-back and re-group and basically not panic. I slowed my pace slightly more, and started to walk thru the water stations when I drank.

"As President Bacow, Coach Megerle, Dr. Miriam Nelson, and others have stressed, it's all in the beginning."

— Steve Eliopoulos (A'89)

And drink is what I did, over and over, much to my amazement! I thought, given the mild 55-degree, overcast day, that I would be drinking pretty minimally, but boy was I wrong. I think over the course of the 26 miles, I drank 8 cups of Gatorade, and probably the same of plain water, with many more cups of water dumped over my head and down the back of my neck.

Then I hit the infamous hills. I made it up over Route 128, then up the next hill, then the next. It was weird. For some reason, I reached this strange point of what I called "being on auto-pilot," where my legs still burned but I kept going almost painlessly!

Once over the hills, it was downhill into Boston. My pace had now slowed quite a bit, to more like 11 minute miles for the final few miles, yielding an overall pace of 9:50 miles and a final time of 4 hours, 17 minutes.

It was FABULOUS! I had the best day. Thanks President Bacow, Coach Megerle, Dr. Nelson, Eric Johnson, Prof. Bill Oliver and many, many others... It was a wonderful day....and a fantastic race.... See you next year!

Gillian Lizars, Class of 2008:

I am overwhelmingly happy to report to all my sponsors that on Monday I completed the Boston Marathon! The weather that day was perfect, partly cloudy in the low-to-mid 50's.

The entire experience I will carry with me. We left at 6 AM and were bused into Boston, then bused out to Hopkinton with all of the red bib numbers (11,000!). Our team spent hours sprawled out on a field getting ourselves ready with the other runners, Power Bars, water, and portable toilets galore! I had my name on my team singlet and D2 written down my legs for people to cheer me on.

The first 8 or 9 miles I felt terrific. It was very difficult to keep pace though because everyone is going so fast and the crowds are huge. After I passed my family at mile 9 my hips started acting up again and somewhere around mile 12 I began my run/walk strategy. After seeing people puking, ambulances buzzing by, and buses of runners who couldn't make it being driven to Boston, I knew I should walk. My hips hurt very badly and I felt dizzy—if I kept running I was afraid I would have to drop out, too. I started power-walking around mile 15 or 16 and made several friends along the way! Over the Newton Hills I went. My best friend Jamie joined me at mile 21, and she said she was out of breath just by my walking pace!

I made it into Boston with my coach, family, and friends standing by. There was no way I was going to quit on the 26 miles. Tufts Jumbos were at several of the water stations cheering us on, which really helped. What helped the most was remembering all of you who sponsored me, and all of the support I knew I had to get to the finish line!

Yesterday and today I am learning how to walk again, haha. The hips still hurt - maybe this is all those years of ballet coming back to haunt me! My body will recover, and I will continue to have you all in my thoughts until it does, because it's still part of the journey. Thank you, thank you so much!!

Carol Marshall, Director of Administration and Finance, Tufts School of Dental Medicine:

Success! WOW I still cannot believe I did it. How amazing and wonderful. I well exceeded my goal of finishing before they turn off the time clocks. The official time: 5 hours and 4 minutes. The run/walk strategy was the key. Thank you Don!

Thank you to everyone who helped and supported me along the way!


Homepage, banner and right side photos by Spencer Leonard for Tufts University. Top left and middle photos by Jodi Hilton for Tufts University.

This story originally ran on Apr. 19, 2006.