San Diego and its post-bombing sympathies were well-represented at Boston Marathon
The winters in Boston and San Diego couldn't be more disparate, but as the Boston Marathon approaches, four local runners couldn't have cared less. COURTESY PHOTO
Boston is coming off the worst winter on record – accordingly, training for the 119tth Boston Marathon, set for Monday, April 20, has been no small feat for many East Coast runners. But arriving in Boston from the West are several marathoners who have been training in what is probably some of the best weather in the country. Sunny and warm but not too hot, and with much less humidity, San Diego is an ideal climate – and with all those miles under their belts, these San Diegans are pretty confident they’ll finish the race and hit their time goals.
But this is the Boston Marathon, and anything can happen here, as the world witnessed two years ago. The already storied event has risen to a new prominence since the bombings that lead to four deaths and the injuries to hundreds during the race in 2013. And in a twist that rivals that of a novel, the surviving bomber is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of all 30 counts of murder and conspiracy on April 8 in a Boston federal court.
San Diego was one of many cities that rallied behind Boston after the tragedy, raising funds and awareness. Events like The Boston Strong San Diego run, organized by Vavi, the San Diego running club (where thousands of runners came out to show their support or The Last Run To Boston, organized by boom RUNNING owner Mike Daly) were commonplace.
Jenni Ceglowski grew up in Arizona and has been a San Diego transplant for about five years. Her husband got her into running about a year after moving to San Diego as a way to explore, meet people and enjoy the legendary good weather.
“It was really incredible to see the community come together here in San Diego after the Boston bombings,” Ceglowski said. “I attended various events and runs, and the sense of support was unreal — just about everyone had a connection to the Boston Marathon. People came together to support their homes, friends and families, remember their pasts, defend their dreams and honor their country in what we did best—run. The Boston Marathon has come to symbolize our strength as a community and as a nation, our ability to stand up and push on, our empathy to reach out and support those around us, our drive, our courage and our determination to put one foot in front of the other even when we are faced with obstacles.”
For most of the runners, there are competitive and emotional reasons for running Boston. San Diego has a large running community, and there are many people with ties to Boston.
A Road Runner Sports marketing manager who has been running for 20 years, Garrett Sheehan has lived in San Diego for 10 years.
“I think people around the world will tell you it’s ‘the’ marathon, the one that you have to do, a box you have to check as a runner,” said Sheehan, 32, originally from Kingston, R.I. “There are amazing runners out here, and the Boston Marathon is a goal for everybody. We’re 3,000 miles away, but for people training for marathons, Boston is on the top of the list.”
Sheehan said there is an added importance to running Boston this year. “I qualified last year, and I’ve been training the last six months to get ready for this. I’ve been working my butt off… and with the bomber trial happening, I think all runners took that personally, so I am excited to get out there, be a part of it, embrace it and take it back.”
Lauren Padula is a running coach, who received a doctorate in physical therapy from Northeastern University and has been living — and training — in the San Diego warmth for the last six years.
“I ran Boston in 2007,” Padula said, “and actually went to school at Northeastern. I honestly think that the large number of people who live out here are connected to Boston. So many of us either went to college in Boston or are from the East Coast or have run Boston before, so it really affected us too when the bombings happened. It was on my college bucket list to run Boston. After the bombings, I said I want to run Boston again, I need to run Boston again.”
Runners often talk about the electric energy the spectators bring to this race, and it is unlike any other marathon, with the possible exception of the New York City Marathon, that traverses that city every fall.
Eric Marenburg was born and raised in Peabody, Mass., where he was a competitive runner, running cross-country and track and field in high school. He went on to run competitively at the University of Maryland as a walk-on and has completed six marathons, including Boston three times. His personal best was 2:39:53, and he expects to finish this year at about 2:45.
“As a runner,” Marenburg said, “the best thing about Boston is you don’t have to know anyone to be cheered on because it’s such a celebration — you feel like a rock star running down the street, especially Boylston. In some ways, the Boston experience ruins you, because once you do that, nothing rivals the energy.”
He too, cites the added inspiration of running the Boston Marathon this year.
“My motivation to be here this year were the events in 2013. It was certainly a huge influence in wanting to qualify so I could get back out there. Since the bombings happened, a lot of the people who are running it this year were motivated by this.”
Terri Stanley, former editor of Boston Common magazine, is a writer, television program developer and producer who saw her "styleboston" magazine-format program win two regional Emmy Awards, including in the Outstanding Magazine Program category in 2013.