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Local Runners Represent in Boston Marathon

Monday, April 16, 2012


A predicted high temperature of 87 degrees for today’s B.A.A. Boston Marathon isn’t keeping Worcester resident Ben Coughlin from starting in his first Boston.

Temps are predicted to be so high that race officials have issued an advisory, and are allowing all time-qualified runners to defer their entry until 2013, provided they do not start the race. Participants who choose to run have been urged to drink extra water, walk periodically, and not try to set a personal best. 

Local Runners Up Front

“Of course I’m still running,” Coughlin said. “I’m just hoping that the heat doesn’t kick in until later in the afternoon. My plan is for extra hydrating – I don’t usually get water at every stop, but my plan is to take at least a little at each one.”

Wearing Bib # 1643, Coughlin will be crossing the starting line just after 10 am, in the first of three waves race organizers have established. He will be in the second corral, starting just behind the elite men. Other locals with a prime position are WPI track star Kevin Jillson (Bib #101) of Worcester and Gregory Ward (#319) of West Boylston, who will be taking their marks in the first corral with the elites.

Between 9 and 9:30 am, the Mobility Impaired and Wheelchair racers start. The gun for the Women’s Elite division goes off at 9:32. The second and third waves of the open field start at 10:20 and 10:40. 

A standout athlete at Holy Name High and Bryant University, Coughlin qualified for the 26.2 mile race last October with a third place finish in the Newport Marathon. “I’ve watched the marathon every single year since I was 2 or 3, and it’s always been a goal of mine. I wasn’t expecting to run it the year after I graduated from college.”

The Elite Field

This year’s warm weather will make the 2012 trip from Hopkinton to Boston a very different race from last year, when Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya ran the course in 2:03:02, the fastest time ever recorded in a marathon. 

The 15 man elite field includes Mutai, 11 of his countrymen, Gebregziabher Gebremariam of Ethiopia (his countryman Tadese Tola was a late drop), Jason Hartmann and Nicholas Arciniaga of the US and Michael Butter of the Netherlands.

In the women’s elite field, 2011 Boston winner Caroline Kilel of Kenya is back to defend her title. Also competing are seven other Kenya women, four Ethiopian runners headed up by Ashu Kasim, as well as Alevtina Biktimirova and Nadezdha Leonteva of Russia. There are no US women.

The Boston Marathon is considered a special race for many reasons: it is the oldest annual marathon in the world; the course is a difficult one, with four hills 20 miles into the race; the majority of runners must qualify with fast times to earn a spot; the 2011 field filled up in less than 8 hours, and the support of the crowds along the course. 27,000 runners are registered for today’s race. 

“There’s no other race like it,” Scott Stevens of Holden said. “Qualifying is hard, and there’s a lot involved in running for a charity.”

The B.A.A. awards about 20 percent of its numbers to runners affiliated with approved charities, who agree to raise funds in exchange for an official number.

Stevens, acting president of Central Mass. Striders and the designer of Worcester’s marathon and half marathon courses, will be running his sixth Boston.

“Central Mass Striders provides volunteers to the BAA events, and in return they give us 20 time-waived numbers,” he said. “We use them as incentive to get volunteers for our events.”

Stevens, who will be wearing bib number 23525, said Monday’s forecast of high temperatures could affect his time.

“Last year I did 3:39, and that was my best time. I’m hoping to be somewhere around there,” he said.

Eleventh Running for Local Man

After a three year hiatus, Gennaro Conte of Shrewsbury is back in Boston for his11th run.

“I qualified in the Green Mountain marathon in Vermont, with a 3:02:40,” he said. “I did Boston 10 years in a row, and then I took some time off and went to Italy to visit my family.”

Wearing Bib # 3513, Conte’s qualifying time earned him a place in the first wave of runners. “I’m hoping to stay close to my best Boston time of 2:45,” he said.

If you’re headed into the race, the BAA urges you to use public transportation. For other hints for the best views, click here.

Got a runner you want to follow? The BAA website will be posting updates at every 5 kilometers. To get a text message on your runner, click here. 




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