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Friends on the Hills

Posted by Rich Horgan  March 12, 2014 09:42 PM

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Because of last year's marathon bombings over 5,700 runners were unable to cross the finish line in 2013.

The Boston Athletic Association handled this situation with great sensitivity and in addition to awarding finisher's medals and an official projected finish time, they guaranteed an entry to any one of this group. As a result there are thousands of additional runners in this year's race.

While this is a logistical headache for the BAA and the towns along the course, it has created an opportunity for many of the charity groups to raise additional funds for many of the great causes represented in the BAA's Charity program.

With the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge approximately 180 of last year's participants will return this year with their own number and raise money for cancer research.

Most charity groups organize long runs every weekend beginning in January. This year with all the additional runners, Saturday runs on the course have become a festive occasion.

There are literally thousands of people on the Newton hills and over the course of my 21 years of training I've been lucky enough to meet quite a few of them. Having someone give you a shout out during a grueling 18-mile run tends to bring a smile to your face.

This year in particular it seems that everyone feels a special kinship. Two of my fellow Dana Farber teammates couldn't stop laughing after both a UPS driver and a Newton policeman stopped me to say "hi" during our run.

With just a few weeks of serious training left one can really sense that April 21 is going to be a very special day in many ways.

Personally this will be the 25th Dana Farber Marathon Challenge and I will be running for my former teammate Darby that is fighting a very tough battle against cancer. I encourage runners of all abilities to run the Shifter's 5k for Dana Farber on April 5th in Waltham: www.shifters5k.com. All proceeds will benefit innovative cancer research.

Make sure your cheer loudly for all of the runners on April 21, especially for the 5,700 that are determined to finished what they started last year.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th 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

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