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Penn Staters take on 26.2 Miles at the 118th Boston Marathon

There is no question that Penn State is an active university. At any point in time, you can usually see Penn State students jogging around campus or getting their cardio in at the gym. Still, some of those dedicated students went above and beyond in their workouts, by logging extra miles of running, 26.2 miles to be exact, in order to train for this past Monday’s 118th Boston Marathon.

Here, we looked at some of those Penn Staters, past and present, and how conquering the historic 26.2 miles around the city of Boston was for them.

Grant Bower, a senior from State College, started running as a senior in high school, got hooked, and has run competitively ever since. The 2014 Boston Marathon was his third marathon, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and definitely the hardest.

What’s known as “Heartbreak Hill” proved to live up to its name. “The four hills in miles 16-21 really punished me and caused me to lose time at the end of the race. Keeping the thoughts of last year’s victims helped me to push on despite my obvious discomfort,” Bower said.

The challenge of climbing up those hills, while knowing that you still have more miles to go, would be daunting to an average person. But, running the Boston Marathon is not something that an “average person” would do. There are strict qualifying standards, which makes this marathon one of the most distinguished and competitive in the world.

“If you’re a competitive runner and you’re going to run a marathon, your goal is most likely to qualify to run Boston,” said Bower. “It is a great honor to be part of the history of the race, especially in this year’s race. I’m going to try to run as many consecutive Boston marathons as I can.”

Grant finished the race in 2 hours, 56 minutes, and 8 seconds.

Friends Charlie Page, Matt Doutt and Grant Bower.

Matt Doutt finished the Boston Marathon with a time of 2 hours, 47 minutes, and 50 seconds. He’s a junior from Pittsburgh who qualified to race last year for the marathon, but missed it for triathlon nationals. However, he took part in this prestigious race as soon as he could get the change.

“The race was extra special this year because of the tragic events that occurred last year,” said Doutt. “Continuing to have the race and the large turnout shows the fearlessness and unity of the running community and Boston.”

He remarked that Boston was the largest and best-organized race that he has ever ran, and that he will definitely continue running, as well as swimming and biking, as he trains for his first Ironman Triathlon this summer.

Matt Doutt in front of the 2014 Boston Marathon booth

Grace Burns and Liz Novack, both seniors, ran the majority of the marathon together and helped pace one another throughout the 26.2 miles.

“It’s just really nice to have someone next to you, experiencing the same pain, and knowing that all of your training has prepared you for that moment,” said Burns.

Grace is a senior from Kennett Square, Pa., and joined the PSU Club Cross Country team, looking for the camaraderie and a group of people to run with, like she experienced on her high school track and cross country teams.

This was her third marathon but was much different from her past two, mostly due to the rowdy Bostonian spectators and the sheer size of the race.

“There were times in the race when I felt so mentally and physically defeated but then I would hear people screaming my name from the sidelines and cheering me on and it just reminded me what I had come there to accomplish and forced me to push through the pain I was experiencing,” said Burns.

Grace finished the race in 3 hours and 39 minutes, following her good friend, Liz Novack, who completed it in 3 hours, 32 minutes, and 13 seconds.

Novack, who is from State College, has dreamed of running the Boston Marathon since she was little and is still in unbelief that she actually ran it.

“This year, I wanted to run for Boston, for all of those affected and for those who can no longer run,” said Novack. “This marathon was by far the hardest thing I have ever done but I’m so glad I was able to do it. When I saw what happened last year, I felt for my fellow runners in the running community and I wanted to run it this year to show that we won’t back down.”

Liz expressed how the crowd and the atmosphere played a major part in inspiring her to finish the race and really carried her through the course, saying, “The city of Boston was stronger than ever this year.”

Liz Novack and Grace Burns after completing the race

Michael Sutherland, from Hellertown, Pa., is a sophomore, who finished the race in 2 hours, 58 minutes, and 25 seconds. He started getting serious with running during high school and continued into his Penn State career, generally getting up early in the morning for workouts and more often than not out, in the snow for his long runs on the weekends.

The Boston Marathon was his second marathon, following one in Pittsburgh, and he feels lucky to be one of the 36,000 people that had the opportunity to run this race.

“For most runners, qualifying for the Boston marathon is one of the biggest accomplishments that you can achieve,” said Sutherland on his reason for running. “Running Boston had been on my mind long before the bombings happened last year but after they occurred, I knew that this year would be like no other. I wanted to come out and support a city that had gone through so much.”

The city of Boston, as compared to his last marathon in Pittsburgh, really seemed to come alive for the race.

“For the first few miles of the race, when I was giving endless high fives to spectators, I felt so much joy,” he said. “With all of the support, I felt like I was flying.”

Sutherland was drawn to running because he was able to do more than just sit on the bench, like other sports, and hopes to continue for many more years to come. His plans for the future include running another marathon next year and continuing training for the Penn State Club Cross Country team’s season next fall.

Michael Sutherland on the morning of this year’s Boston Marathon

Dave Moyer finished the Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 48 minutes, and 31 seconds. Moyer is an alumnus, originally from Boyertown, Pa., who now works and lives in Boston. The 118th Boston Marathon was special to him, because it’s now his city’s marathon, he said.

“The buzz had been growing all week in the city,” said Moyer. “I couldn’t wait to be a part of the race.”

He had decided to run the race before even moving to the city. Its prestige alone made the race a goal of his, a goal that every runner aspires towards at least once in their lives, Moyer said. This was his third marathon, the past two being in Pittsburgh, and the excitement was especially high this year, with the entire city cheering on and supporting the runners.

“After the race, I felt like a hero walking back to my apartment from the subway,” commented Moyer. “Every person I passed in the street recognized my medal and said congrats, or gave me a high five. Everyone really came together today, and it was a great atmosphere to be around.”

Dave Moyer, in blue, with friends and teammates after completing the marathon

Congratulations and thanks to the runners, not only mentioned in this article but the many other Penn State Nittany Lions, who ran the streets of Boston and proudly represented Penn State, showing that we are not only Penn State, but also Boston Strong.

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About the Author

Bridget Markham

Bridget is a junior majoring in journalism with minors in Spanish and art history. She still hasn’t figured out what she wants to do with her life yet, hence the art history. Like the typical north Jersey native that she is, Bridget enjoys Bruce Springsteen, the Yankees, and the Jersey shore… and she refuses to acknowledge that she has an accent from her home state. She can usually be found at either Saint’s or Webster’s, and if not there, the hiking trails. You can contact her at [email protected]

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