FOR TASTE OF RACE, ADD LOCAL FLAVOR
Author: MARVIN PAVE
Date: April 15, 2005
Gary Brendel, Jean Cote Sr., Jeanne Guerin, Monique Maddy, Peter Salzberg, and Laura Smith won't be breaking the tape at the finish line of the 109th Boston Marathon or collecting major prize money Monday, but that is not the motivation for their months of training. They are typical "Faces in the Crowd," from among the 20,000-plus official entrants, individuals running or wheeling the 26 miles 385 yards from Hopkinton to Boston for the ambience, the challenge, or a special cause. All six "Faces in the Crowd" are symbolic of the vast majority of this year's Boston Marathon field, striving for a goal while celebrating fitness, camaraderie, tradition, and the spirit of giving. Their experiences will be reported in Tuesday's Globe.
Guerin, a Weston resident who grew up in West Roxbury, has been a runner since her college days at the University of Pennsylvania. She ran in her first marathon 10 years ago - the Bay State Marathon - with a group of friends and relatives who had started an informal running group through the West Roxbury YMCA.
"It was a pretty amazing experience," said Guerin, whose initial effort resulted in a 3:31 time that qualified her for the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996. "That was sort of my goal - to experience the 100th Boston Marathon - but I had a feeling I'd do more. But it was tough. I ran the 100th in 3:46. That winter was hard. I didn't train as well as I should have and the last few miles were kind of rough."
Although Guerin, 43, participated in many half-marathons and 10K races after the 1996 Boston Marathon, she did not attempt another marathon until Chicago last October. A member of the nearly year-old (all-female) Suburban Striders Running Club of Weston, Guerin and seven other club members traveled to Chicago, where Guerin's 3:31 time qualified her for this year's Boston.
"One of my main goals at Chicago was to feel good and strong," she said. "My structured training through the club definitely helped. We meet once a week formally and our members are runners of varying ability - everything from walkers to marathoners."
An operations manager at the Lab of Computer Science at Massachusetts General Hospital, Guerin and her husband, Jack, have three children, Luke, 14, Adam, 11, and Sophia, 5. "The whole family plans to be somewhere on the marathon route. We're still figuring it out," said Guerin, who hopes to run between 3:30 and 3:40 Monday.
"That would be a great accomplishment," she said. "Like they say, it's the grand-daddy of all marathons and I've grown up watching it. When I ran the 100th, I'll never forget the challenge of getting over the hills in Newton or the cheering, especially in Kenmore Square. In my training now, I run part of the Marathon course on Route 30 to Cleveland Circle and back to Weston, so that should prepare me well for what's ahead."
Brendel, 46, got back into racing in 2003 at the New Charles River 7-miler with a new chair designed by Bob Hall, the first wheelchair Boston Marathoner.
"I used to race against Bob when I was a teenager," recalled Brendel, a research engineer who works at MIT's Lincoln Laboratories in Lexington. "Bob was the man we all looked up to as kids. He always had the slickest equipment."
Brendel, who grew up in West Hempstead, Long Island, attended a school for the physically handicapped (Human Resources School in Albertson, N.Y.). "One of the benefits was that the school had physical education programs like wheelchair basketball and track and field, and I was an active participant as a teenager," he recalled.
Born with a congenital bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Brendel has range of motion in his legs and can walk short distances. "For the most part, I use the wheelchair all the time and I'm able to drive my station wagon," he said.
A graduate of Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon University, Brendel has resided in Sterling since 1995 with his wife, Lisa, and four children, Heather, 16, Amy, 15, Abigail, 9, and Stephen, 8.
Brendel qualified for the 2004 Boston Marathon by posting a time of 2 hours 3 minutes at the Bay State Marathon in Lowell in October 2003. "Our kids were older and I had just gotten over a bout of cluster migraine headaches, and one of the ways I got through it was through exercise, getting out in my chair," he said.
Last year, he posted a personal-best 1:49.16 in the Boston Marathon. In the BAA Half Marathon, he finished second in 2003 and fifth last year. He hopes to break 1:40 this year. PETER SALZBERG
Salzberg, a Walpole police lieutenant, along with officer Brian Becker and the town's fire chief, Tim Bailey, make up the "Red and Blue Squad" that will once again raise money for the American Liver Foundation. Last year, Salzberg, Bailey, and former Walpole police detective Christopher Roy contributed nearly $10,000; this year, the reconstituted group has already been promised around $8,000 from supporters, although Bailey had to withdraw this week because of a running-related injury.
They are part of the foundation's 230-member "Run For Research" team, which since its inception 17 years ago has raised nearly $8 million, including a record $1.18 million in 2004. Team members, under the rules of the Boston Athletic Association, agree to raise a minimum of $2,500 and the foundation offers a training program for its team, which includes partnerships with Community Running in Cambridge, Marathon Sports, Fitcorp, and Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy.
Salzberg, 42, who will wear the team's bright orange singlet with the inscription "Go Liver!" on the back, grew up in Walpole and resides in Franklin.
"I had run and done some mini-triathlons in the past and last year Chris Roy suggested that we run the Boston Marathon with Tim and I started doing the research on different charities," recalled Salzberg. "I called [Run For Research manager] Tom Gearty at the Liver Foundation and he was so excited and happy to take us on."
Last year's initial marathon experience, he said, was a crazy quilt of weather: "We trained in the cold of winter . . . brutal," he said. "As the marathon approached and I started to get some weather reports of upwards of 85-degree temperature, I wasn't sure how to adjust. I started out slow, felt awful at Heartbreak Hill, and a Red Cross volunteer pulled me off the course. I was taken to Beth Israel Hospital, had two IV bags put into me, and I felt personally discouraged afterwards. I thought about not running again."
Salzberg later spoke to Walpole Police Chief Rick Stillman, who urged him to give it another shot this year. His goal this year is to "finish, and finish with dignity. I'll take my time and say hello to friends along the course." JEAN COTE SR.
Cote, 77, has been running for 44 years and participated in his first marathon 30 years ago - the Ocean State Marathon in Rhode Island. "I was a runner and cyclist and did some weightlifting, but the idea of running a marathon was a challenge for me," said Cote, who posted a 3:16 that day.
It was the first of more than two dozen marathons he's competed in.
Cote, who grew up in New Bedford and attended New Bedford Vocational High School, helped out his mother in real estate, then enlisted in the US Air Corps in 1945 shortly after high school graduation. He served for 31 months and upon his return helped out his mother, again rehabbing and fixing up various properties, including stores, apartment houses, and garages.
Cote moved to California in 1951 to work for the US government, stayed three years, then returned home. He and his late wife, Adlina Jardain Cote, had three sons, Jean Jr., Michael, and Kevin.
"All three were runners and Jean Jr. still runs and trains with me on occasion. I run in the morning and he's the principal at Fairhaven High, so his mornings are tied up. Michael has also run marathons in the past."
Legally blind - he can't read or drive - Cote considers himself lucky to be able to continue his running. He has been an official entrant in his age group (70 and older) for seven consecutive years. He posted a 4:28.29 last year on a humid day, bettering the qualifying time (five hours) in the visually impaired category and also the 75-79 qualifying time of 4:45.
Cote, who has about 100 first-place trophies for his age group, simply hopes to complete Monday's race and dedicate it to the memory of his wife. LAURA SMITH
Smith, who earned letters in cross-country and indoor and outdoor track over five seasons at Boston College, is running her second marathon and first Boston. She qualified with a 3:17.44 in Philadelphia last November.
"I knew I wanted to continue running past college," said Smith, a three-season track captain at Wachusett Regional High in her hometown of Holden who graduated from BC in 2003 and who is about to complete a master's program at her alma mater in preparation to become a women's health nurse practitioner.
"Last summer, I spoke to one of my former BC teammates and we trained for the New York City Marathon. But things fell through, I didn't get a number, and I wound up joining a couple of other college teammates in Philadelphia. On Monday, 3:10 or under would be fine, but the experience is even more important."
Smith said she'll never forget her sophomore season at BC when the Eagles won the Big East women's cross-country championship at Franklin Park. Smith was second among BC runners and sixth overall.
"I used to run with my dad when I was little," said Smith, 23, who also played soccer in high school and was honored as Wachusett's Female Athlete of the Year as a senior. BC coach Randy Thomas happened to be scouting Smith on the day she broke the school's girls' cross-country record.
On Monday, Smith's parents, Marshall and Brenda, and brother Bryant, will be on the BC campus to watch the marathoners and then meet her at the finish line. MONIQUE MADDY
Maddy, 42, began running at age 6 when she was attending Leland School in Kent, England. Born in Liberia, Maddy attended Georgetown University and was a member of the women's track team, specializing in the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter sprints.
"I didn't envision myself as a marathoner back then," said Maddy, who moved to the Boston area in 1991 to attend Harvard Business School. "While at Georgetown, I ran in a fund-raiser to help a friend on the women's track team who became quadriplegic after an accident. It was a 10K race and a lot longer than I had been used to. I got a better feeling from that than from a sprint and it led to my running recreationally longer distances, well after college graduation."
Maddy, who has now run 10 marathons, will be among the elite women's field on Monday, thanks to several solid performances, including a personal-best 2:48 clocking in Boston in 2002 and a 2:58 at the New York City Marathon last November. The big question this year is how a nagging foot injury will affect her performance.
"I've been spending a lot of time on the treadmill and that tends to be softer on the feet," said Maddy.
Now running in her seventh Boston Marathon, Maddy, who placed third and fourth in the past two years in the women's masters (40-plus) in New York, said each experience has been different. "When I first started Boston, I was among thousands of runners, but now that I'm in the elite field [which goes off a half-hour earlier] it's a new feeling," she said. "I enjoy it because there's more space and you have the crowd to yourself, but there is significantly more stress when you're in the lead pack. Considering my injury, under three hours would be great this year."