The following was submitted by William Menda (Bib No. 17,300)
Why is it so important to many of us to qualify for the Boston Marathon and, if possible, re-qualify and return to Boston? Because it's a thrill to achieve something meaningful, even -- or especiallly -- when it comes by a small margin.
For me to get to Boston the first time, I had to run the best marathon I had ever run. Being a middle-of-the-pack kind of guy meant my best marathon allowed me to qualify by six seconds a mile (3:33:20).
Six seconds a mile? That's one or two slow miles, one cramp, one pit stop, or one or two slow hills.
Several of my running friends, on their best days ever, had similar small margins of great success. For faster people, qualifying by larger margins could mean personal records as well, but frequent fast times could lessen some of the pressure, as well as the thrill of just qualifying.
Getting to Boston once (it took me nine years) hardly persuaded me that re-qualifying would ever happen.
So what do you do?
You try. You eat even more carefully. You lose more weight. You train smarter and over time you lose most of your running partners.
The years pass, miles and injuries accumulate, and failed opportunities to qualify become more regular.
Then on one day, one magical day, in one place, fitness, weather, and mental toughness come together again.
Another great effort produces another small margin of great success. The feeling of putting it all together again to achieve such a result at the edge of the limits of one's abilities is incredible.
Many articles decry the relaxation of Boston's qualifying times. Those qualifying times are high standards for most runners. For those of us who line up for the race on April 20, we are running Boston because we ran the absolute best we had ever run just to meet the standard.
That is what makes the Boston Marathon so important to us.
- Matt Pepin, Boston.com sports editor
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
- Ty Velde is a 15-time Boston qualifier who's completed 11 consecutive Boston Marathons and 23 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 12th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
- Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes