Boston Marathon

4 local runners to know at the 2021 Boston Marathon

From elite runners eyeing the front of the pack to longtime Marathon veterans, here are some local runners to root for at the 2021 Boston Marathon.

Boston Marathon
Runners head down the stretch to the finish line in the 121st Boston Marathon in 2017. Due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, the race was postponed from its usual date in April to October 11. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

After more than two years, the Boston Marathon is back – all 26.2 miles of it in person.

Of course, a few things will be different this year, like the fact that the race is being run in October rather than on Patriots Day in the spring, as well as amid still-lingering concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

But one thing is still certain: some of the best runners from across the globe will converge on Boston Monday, Oct. 11 for the 125th running of the city’s marathon – a welcome sight after the pandemic took away the in-person 2020 race.

As always, though, there are plenty of local competitors looking to make noise in their “hometown” marathon.

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Here are a few local names to know.

Colin Bennie

The former Syracuse standout is new to the marathon scene, having run his first 26-mile race at the U.S. Olympic Trials for the marathon back in February 2020. Though he didn’t qualify for the Olympics, Bennie said he began to take a greater interest and focus on the distance long-term.

The 26-year-old dropped three seconds off his time in his latest marathon effort, finishing third at The Marathon Project in Arizona last December in a time of 2:09.38.

He also just missed qualifying for the Olympics this year at 10,000 meters, coming just 4.5 seconds short of a berth in Tokyo.

The Princeton native says he’s “thrilled” to run his “hometown” marathon, something he says he’s watched his older brother do in the past.

“It was a bucket list item for sure,” he said. “If I was going to run a marathon, I was going to want to run Boston at some point…having the fall Boston Marathon was clearly a unique situation, but for my training and racing schedule, it worked out pretty perfectly.

Michael McGrane and Amanda Watters

The couple that runs together stays together.

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The 51-year-old McGrane and 41-year-old Watters are both decade-plus veterans of the Boston Marathon. McGrane has been running Boston since 2001 while Watters has competed in the last 16 straight races, including running last year’s virtual marathon with her newborn daughter Adina (now 22 months old), in tow.

“We started and finished the race with the baby in the stroller, and that’s something we never would’ve been able to do in the real Boston Marathon,” she said.

Amanda Watters.

The two Ashland residents will leave their toddler with the grandparents for this race, which will be Michael’s 20th consecutive in-person Boston Marathon after skipping last year’s virtual run: “I wanted my 20th Boston Marathon to be in person.”

McGrane, who’s been struggling with injury this year, said his goal is simply to get to the finish line “hopefully with a smile on my face” and to set his sights on 2022’s (hopefully) regularly-scheduled race.

Watters, meanwhile, will run in women’s Masters division with the Boston Athletic Association team (which both she and McGrane are part of), and hopes to re-qualify for next year’s marathon as well.

Michael McGrane

But she’s especially excited that Adina will get to see her mom and dad in action together on Monday.

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“I grew up in Southborough and used to watch the race from Ashland,” she said. “[Adina’s] going to be watching from the same place that I watched from as a kid. It was the Boston Marathon that made me become a runner, so I’m excited to hopefully inspire the next generation.”

Matt McDonald

The 28-year-old Cambridge resident, who runs with the B.A.A.’s High Performance Team, has run six marathons in his career, including a trip to Olympic trials and two shots at the Boston Marathon.

Though the transplant from the Atlanta Track Club has only been here since last November, he still views the city his “hometown” – and the Marathon his hometown course.

“Being [here] more or less makes the Boston a no-brainer for what marathon you’re going to run, typically in the spring,” he said. “And then the fall marathon would be the one where you have to choose a little bit. But this year, the fall marathon got chosen for me by Boston.”

McDonald finished 10th at U.S. Olympic trials last year – just behind Bennie – in a time of 2:12.19 and set his personal best of 2:11.10 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon, which was good for 14th place (fifth among American runners).

As such, he expects to be “at the front of, if not at the top” of the elite pack of runners in Boston Monday.

But aside from the feeling of competition, he says the number-one thing he’s feeling at the moment is simply gratitude for the ability to run in person again.

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“These opportunities have been dead, few and far between [during the pandemic]. So October 11, I’m really just excited to be back out there.”

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