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Boston College Students To Participate in Marathon Monday

At 8 a.m. on Sunday, most of Boston is slowly starting to roar back to life, but Heartbreak Hill in Newton is already a buzz with people. Runners, young and old, professional and amateur, fast and slow alike, take on the iconic hill as a part of their weekend long-run course. Among the runners devoting their sleepy Sunday morning to marathon training are three Boston College students: Kate Connolly, Carson Wallace, and Olivia Pullin. 

In the city of Boston, the warming of the damp air and the appearance of buds on the trees signals usher in more than just the arrival of spring. The changing of the weather brings with it a reckoning day for thousands of runners. The Boston Marathon is one of the six major world marathons and an important day that brings the city together. The set up of barricades, aid stations, and the finish line across Boylston Street are the final steps of preparation that, for most, starts months before race day. 

Boston College gets a front-row seat to all the Patriots Day festivities. The marathon runs right past the university, which is located on mile 21 of the course. Every year, students get an early start to their day and line Commonwealth Ave to cheer on the waves of runners passing through. It's a special point for all the runners, but for the dozens of Boston College students running the marathon, it's one of the most anticipated miles of the race. 

Kate Connolly ('25) of Natick, Massachusetts, is one of those BC students running the marathon this year. "My mom has done [the Boston Marathon] a few times, so it was always a dream to do it. I just figured now being healthy for the first time in a long time I just decided to go for it," said Connolly. Her running journey began in high school when she followed in her sister's footsteps and joined the track team. After a year of collegiate running, Connolly medically retired from the team and took a step back from running. For her, training for Boston is a way to reframe her relationship with running. After contacting several organizations, she was accepted as a charity runner for Horizons for Homeless Children. 

"I started training in early January and kind of built up. It had been a couple of months since I had followed a real plan, I took probably ten months off of running which was good for me. I do one workout a week, three easy running days, and a long run. It's definitely hard work, but collegiate running was a different beast, so training has been a lot of fun," said Connolly. 

For Connolly, it's the gratitude that keeps her going. "I don't necessarily have a goal time, I just want to enjoy it … I was running Heartbreak Hill earlier today and was just like 'woah this is going to be tough after 20 miles' but it's so beautiful I just want to soak it all up and enjoy it. I've definitely had times where running has been incredibly stressful and taxing and having the ability to do it for fun is really cool." 

For BC junior Carson Wallace of Narragansett, Rhode Island, this year will not be the first time he takes on the Boston Marathon. After watching the marathon his freshman year, Wallace was inspired to take on the challenge. "I turned to my buddy and was like 'Let's do it.' I stuck to it, he didn't. I ended up doing it sophomore year and I'm doing it again this year," said Wallace. 

For Wallace, marathon training this year is all about doing what feels right. "Last year I really stuck to the book. I found a plan online that I was comfortable with and I would never miss a day. This year I've been more so worried about my body and how I feel on that day. If I miss a run I can just reconfigure my plan," said Wallace. 

Participating in the marathon has brought him more than just a new hobby. Wallace has gotten a first-hand look at the vibrant running community in Boston. His coach for the 2024 marathon is someone he met during a long run last year, and he even participates in run club events downtown. "If you look for it there is a really big running community in Boston… It's just cool, you see people from all walks of life running the marathon… There is definitely a community and it's something I never imagined I'd be a part of," said Wallace. 

Boston isn't the only marathon he plans to run this year. In November, Wallace will also run the New York City marathon as a charity runner for the Friedreich Ataxia Research Alliance.

For senior Olivia Pullin, running the marathon this year will add another dimension to one of her favorite Boston College traditions. For her, the inspiration to run the marathon came from years of watching other runners take on the challenge. "Seeing Boston so many times I realized there were a lot of people that looked like me that ran successfully for charity and that was really inspiring. I felt like I could do that in my future because they did too," said Pullin. 

Pullin did not have much prior running experience, and for some, the challenge of training and fundraising might have seemed daunting, but she tackled it head-on. After being accepted as a charity runner for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, a cancer support organization, Pullin got to work. "I started training in December and honestly at that point, the long runs were 6-8 miles and then ramped up in January. Those were really hard at first, but they got easier from there," said Pullin. 

To raise the $10,000 she had pledged for her charity, Pullin used creative tactics like bingo squares on Instagram and letters to her neighbors during the holidays to collect donations. As she got deeper into her training, Pullin discovered the importance of personalizing your training plan and listening to your body. She even discovered some creative ways to fuel up during those difficult training runs. "On the long runs, a lot of people eat running gels like Gu, but I find them really gross. So I actually use GoGo Squeez applesauce," said Pullin. She even jokes that with all the packs of applesauce she's bought, GoGo Squeez should sponsor her for the race. 

For these three Boston College runners and the many more affiliated with BC, the amazing opportunity of participating in such an iconic event is not lost on them. When asked about their main goals for race day, the runners all had the same message: just enjoy the moment. 

 

 

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