Crossing the Boston Marathon finish line is a moment many runners dream of, but each year only a select group of athletes are awarded with the privilege of participating in the exclusive race.
“Knowing it's the oldest marathon makes you appreciate the history,” says Bryanna Gondeiro-Petrie, an avid runner who participated in the race last year. “It’s amazing crossing the finish line, you feel accomplished. It’s hard to describe the crowd and the other runners are what make the race.”
Runners who wish to participate must earn their entry by running a qualifying time. For some very gifted athletes achieving a qualifying time is a walk in the park, while for others it’s a challenging feat that requires months of tough training.
"For me, running the Boston Marathon was the culmination of many years of intense physical training in the gym, on the road and on the trails," says Sandra Laflamme, a marathoner who blogs about her running adventures at organicrunnermom.com. "Being able to run the Boston Marathon meant that I had achieved one of my biggest running goals. Just being at the starting line feels like pure success."
Maybe race organizers can’t accommodate every single runner who hopes to participate, but this year the Boston Athletic Association aims to spread the inspirational and exhilarating energy of the race around the world with the first ever Boston Marathon World Run.
“Through technology, we wanted to create something that engendered that same sense of community and resiliency as the race itself, ensuring that no one would be denied the chance to have their own 2014 Boston Marathon experience,” said Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk.
Runners from all walks of life can pledge to walk, run, or wheel a distance of their choice, which they can complete over the time leading up to or on April 21, 2014 when the official race will take place. The BAA is also encouraging runners to donate to The One Fund Boston, an organization created by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to help raise money for those affected by the tragic events that took place during last year’s race.
"I raced the Boston Marathon in 2013 and I struggle to find peace with the events that occurred. I will be running the race again this year. I need to run it again to see for myself that everything can be ok," says Laflamme. "We will run together and lift each other up as we cross that finish line on Boylston Street."
Runners who register to participate in the World Run can print an official bib number to wear on race day and will receive a digital finisher medal and certificate, too. With 52 days left until the race, so far the movement has attracted 4,257 participants from nearly every continent and who have donated close to $3,000, collectively pledging to cover more than 300,000 miles.
“Maybe it’s not 26.2 miles, and maybe it’s not in Boston, but there is a marathoner in all of us. We encourage you to bring it out – and to be a part of the first ever Boston Marathon World Run,” reads the event's website. “This year we’re all Boston Marathoners.”