Marathon

‘It’s the best marathon in the world’: Former Boston Police Commissioner William Evans is running Boston for the 21st time

“I hope I set a good example for all those in law enforcement. That even after 38 years, I’m still running.”

William Evans. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe, File

William Evans is once again gearing up to run the Boston Marathon.

This year marks the 21st time the former Boston police commissioner will compete in the event. It will be his 54th marathon overall, and the 60-year-old’s first Boston Marathon since he retired from the Boston Police Department last year to helm the Boston College Police Department. 

Ahead of Marathon Monday, Boston.com talked with Evans about the race, his running goals, and whether this year will feel different following his retirement from the Boston Police Department.

Boston.com: How does it feel to have reached running Boston 21 times and 54 marathons total?

William Evans: I enjoy the sport. I’m looking forward to tackling the hills again. It’s a great marathon. It’s the best marathon in the world.

BDC: Are you running for a particular charity this year?

WE: I’m running this year for Journey Forward. In the past, I’ve run for the Martin Richard Foundation, and that’s been a great organization.

I’m very familiar with Journey Forward. I know Dan [Cummings] — I’ve seen him present on the great work they do. I know a Secret Service agent, Garrett FitzGerald, who a few years ago was in a terrible accident up in New Hampshire. He’s down there working hard every day, hoping he gets motion back. And I know a lot of great things they do.

So when they asked me this year, I said, ‘You know what, they might need some help raising money.’ Because what they do — people’s insurance doesn’t cover. If I can help them raise money so that people get their service and hopefully get back to walking someday, I’d be thrilled.

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BDC: How have you been preparing for the race? Has it been any different training-wise than previous years with your new position at Boston College?

WE: No. I’m still up early every morning. Most mornings [at] 4:30. I’m a man of routine, so nothing has really changed. Obviously I’m a year older, which doesn’t make it any easier. But other than getting slower, still plugging away.

BDC: Do you do special training for the marathon or is it your usual routine?

WE: I usually run most days. When a marathon comes, usually on the weekends I bump it up a little. So throughout the year I’m usually continually running. But [with] Boston, obviously you have to work more hills into your training and obviously increase the distance. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

The real finer part of it is I’m going to start out with my son John again. We ran together last year in some real terrible conditions. At least we’ll start together. He goes right by me now obviously. But it’s always fun that I have the opportunity to actually tackle a marathon with my son.

BDC: Do you think running the race this year will be any different for you, just given that you are retired from the Boston police?

WE: No, I’m still involved with the Boston Police Runners Club. I know I’m going up with them. I still have an affiliation with them. The Boston Police Department will always be special to me after 38 years. So we’re involved very much.

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Boston College has a big section of the race after the runners come off the hill, so we have to put together our own plan here, making the marathon route safe and keeping all our students safe. So I still have a good part of it, and I’ll continue to work hard on that.

Also I’m on the Board of Governors now for the Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association, so I’ve been involved in the planning for the whole event.

BDC: Do you have a favorite part of the course?

WE: The end — when I finish obviously!

No, the best part — I’ll always remember it. My first marathon I ever did for Boston, I did a 2:53 believe it or not, but I’ll always remember coming up Hereford Street. I think for every runner that’s a special time because you take that left onto Boylston and finally you see the crowds, you hear the roar. And you see the finish line. And I remember it brought tears to my eyes the first time I accomplished that.

So the favorite part for me is when you take that right off of Comm. Ave., going up Hereford, and then finally taking that left onto Boylston. Because there’s no crowd like Boston. There’s no excitement like it. To come down there and see that finish line —  it’s the best feeling in the world.

BDC: This year is also the first time the race has fallen on April 15th since the bombings in 2013. How are you feeling about running the race on that anniversary?

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WE: Well every year, and I’ve done it the last three years, I can’t help but think of the victims. … We can never lose sight of the lives we lost that day, as well as all the poor victims who suffer with the wounds of that terrible day.

So it’s always a happy day, but it will always be a solemn day because we will never forget the victims.

BDC: When we last spoke, you had the goal of running Boston 20 times and 60 marathons total. Is that still your goal?

WE: I’d still like to hit 60. … Me and my son are signed up for one [in May]. So as long as my legs hold up — I’ve always said it’s good for you mentally as well as physically. I try to encourage my police officers here at Boston College, and always in the BDP, to do it more for their mental health than for their physical health. Because it’s a good stress reliever.

I always thought that’s what made me work more than anything. Getting through the Boston Marathon, that terrible ordeal, and even the stress of being the police commissioner, I always thought that as long as I got my run in every day, I could accomplish anything. So I’m a big supporter for mental and physical health for law enforcement and that’s why I always ran.

I hope I set a good example for all those in law enforcement. That even after 38 years, I’m still running.

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BDC: Is there anything else you want to say about running the marathon this year or in general?

WE: I just wish everybody a lot of luck. And obviously — really enjoy the experience. It’s a great marathon. Let’s hope the weather cooperates a lot more than it did last year. And I always say, just make sure, don’t pass up on a water stop. Take water all the time. Go easy on the hills, and take in all the excitement. There’s no other marathon like it.