Kristen Fennell is running Boston for the YMCA

"I can still remember the first time I ran a mile without stopping."


In our “Why I’m Running” series, Boston Marathon runners share what’s inspiring them to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston on April 15, 2019. 

Name: Kristen Fennell
Age: 35
From: West Roxbury, Massachusetts
Bib #: 27059

I am so excited to run my third Boston Marathon this April as part of the YMCA of Greater Boston’s Boston Marathon team. I started running a couple of years after college, when my friends were getting into road races. I realized that not only could I not run a 5K, but I probably could not run to save my life — so I made a change. I can still remember the first time I ran a mile without stopping.


That feeling propelled me into pushing myself up to eight miles. A couple of friends convinced me to sign up for the Chicago Marathon in 2011 and from then I was hooked. This will be my 11th marathon. Running led me to becoming a spinning instructor, which led to personal training, which led to becoming the Healthy Living Director in America’s First Y.

I’m thrilled to run for the YMCA again this year. I am a Y girl through and through. Not only do I work there now, but I grew up less than half a mile from the Parkway YMCA, where I went to pre-school, day camp, and learned to swim. The money that the YMCA of Greater Boston marathon runners raise gives the youth of Greater Boston so much. Their summer memberships are free, plus we provide comprehensive programming which varies from branch to branch. The core programming promotes leadership, college prep, and exposes students to how local and national governments function. We have a unique opportunity to show our young people a way to be responsible and educated adults and we should not let them down. I’m running in support of the Y’s mission, and also to inspire anyone considering running a marathon: If you don’t go outside of your comfort zone, you will never find what you’re looking for.


Check out our entire “Why I’m Running” series.


Editor’s note: Entry may have been lightly edited for clarity or grammar.