MIT students compete in the Boston Marathon

Runners open up about turning the last corner, finding snow-free training routes

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Daniel Rothenberg G runs the Boston Marathon.
Deepak Mishra

Running 26.2 miles at a stretch can be challenging. Doing it over a course that literally contains a Heartbreak Hill in cold and rainy weather might seem impossible. But graduate students Roy Wedge, Georgia Lagoudas, and Daniel Rothenberg did just that last week. Following their successful completion of the Boston Marathon, The Tech caught up with them as they shared how they went from desperately seeking a running trail during Boston’s coldest winter to crossing the finish line at Copley Square on Marathon Monday.

Preparation for a marathon typically starts around four months in advance, so runners had no choice but to brave Boston’s most severe winter in memory and seek pockets of snow-free zones to run. For Rothenberg, it was the carriage road on Commonwealth Avenue.

“Even when all the other roads and sidewalks were covered with snow, they did a very good job of keeping the carriage road clear,” said Rothenberg, who is a Course 20 Ph.D. candidate doing cancer research at the Koch Institute. “It seemed like everybody was training out there. Seeing all those runners picked me up as it gave me a sense of community.”

The cold and rainy weather on Marathon Monday wasn’t too kind to runners either, but volunteers worked to ensure that the athletes could give their best.

“The medical volunteers had tons of mylar blankets to hand out to the runners,” said Wedge, a graduate student at CSAIL who was named NEWMAC champion and NEWMAC runner of the year in his senior year at MIT.

With a combination of ponchos and trash bags, the rain was kept at bay, and by the time the race had started it was all about adrenaline.

Lagoudas, a Course 20 Ph.D. candidate who works at the Broad Institute, had her first experience of the Boston Marathon back in 2013, when she cheered for a friend less than a mile from the finish line. It was then that she made up her mind: she had to run the Boston Marathon.

“The whole city comes out to cheer, and it’s amazing,” she said. “It was the marathon [all] the runners come to. So after going out there and cheering and just seeing so many people, I realized I just had to do it.”

Having run her share of marathons when she was attending Rice University as an undergrad, Lagoudas had been through the motions before. But it was a new experience for her to find spectators cheering almost throughout the course, a stark contrast from her experiences in Houston where there would be pockets of cheer and miles of silence in between.

Nothing exemplified the enthusiasm of those cheering on more than the Wellesley students.

“I think I ran my fastest mile through the scream tunnel,” quipped Rothenberg, who was running his third marathon. “You can hear them screaming from a mile away. That was probably my favorite part of the race.“

Wedge remembers when he turned the last corner.

“Seeing the finish line was such an awesome feeling,” he said. “You’ve been running for 26 miles or so to reach this thing, and all of a sudden that huge banner you’ve been looking for is right up the street, and you aren’t tired anymore, because there is [that] kick!”

Lagoudas said that running the final stretch on Beacon Street “feels like you are on top of the world.”

“You realize that you’ve finished most of it and you know for certain nothing can stop you reaching finish line,” she said. “You kind of feel like you are riding on the energy of the spectators at that stage.”