Martha’s Vineyard runners beat the heat in Boston Marathon

Nearly 22,500 runners raced on a hot, humid Patriot's Day in the 116th Boston Marathon. — Photo by Sean O' Connor

While most of us were still sound asleep in our beds, runners in the 2012 Boston Marathon were already many miles deep into their race. The dedication of the runners was on display as temperatures were unseasonably warm with a high of 86 degrees Monday April 16th, in Boston.

Local runners James Lanctot (Oak Bluffs, 3:47:41), Marylee Schroeder (West Tisbury, 3:48:32), Hildee Lewis (Tisbury, 3:51:26), Kim O’Callaghan (Vineyard Haven, 4:51:40), Max Sherman (Edgartown, 5:39:38), Larry Johnson (Vineyard Haven, 5:40:54), and Jane Taylor (Vineyard Haven, 5:43:49) were among the nearly 22,500 runners who competed in the 116th running of the event, which begins in Hopkinton and ends at Copley Square in Boston.

“It was miserably hot from start to finish. I didn’t try to get a PR (personal record),” Mr. Lanctot said. “This was my 8th time running Boston (17th marathon overall) and this was the hottest race ever, but I beat my time from last year by 7 minutes.”

“This was the hottest race I’ve ever done and I’ve run a marathon in Jamaica and a Ironman Triathlon in Mexico,” Ms. O’Callaghan said. “I’m an addict to running.”

With the heat being such an issue, having a sound strategy was key for many runners. “I like to start out slow for the first few miles to warm up. You can’t psyche yourself out for the hills,” said Mr. Lanctot who ran to support the Boston Police Department. “I try to think about anything else but running in the race.”

Roughly 2,000 participants received some level of medical attention, and about 120 were taken to hospitals in ambulances due to the extreme heat.

“Considering the heat, I’m happy with how I ran,” Hildee Lewis said. “The hardest part was not going out too fast due to the heat. People were passed out all over the ground after the race.”

Every runner was running for a different reason, whether to wreak havoc on the competition, conquer the course for charity, or just to complete the race. “It’s my first race and my goal is to finish. I try to finish what I start,” said Max Sherman, who was running in support of the America Scores program (Boston chapter). “Like Dory from ‘Finding Nemo,’ I’m just gonna keep swimming and maintain my focus.”

“I enjoyed running for charity,” said Ms. Lewis, who is running for Grassroot Soccer, an organization that teaches youth in developing countries about the prevention and spread of HIV/AIDS (you can help support her fundraising goal of $5,000 by June 30 at “I think perseverance and believing in yourself helps you know there’s a point that if you push through it you can do it.”

Marylee Schroeder, who accomplished her goal of achieving the 3:55 qualifying time for next year’s Boston Marathon (bumped up 5 minutes from last year’s qualifying time), was racing for a finishing time that required a set pace per mile, but she had to change her strategy because of the heat. “I’m not a warm weather runner, but the heat just hits you hard.”

Ms. Schroeder made adjustments to her race strategy and settled into a solid pace. “I went out way too fast the first three miles, but I slowed down the pace and took water at every mile. It was great to have the support of my family at the finish.”

Training partners are very important for motivation, as well as pacing and this year Mr. Sherman and Jane Taylor ran most of the race together. “We ran the race together, which greatly helped running go smoothly and problem free,” Ms. Taylor said. “I’m the figure skating coach [Martha’s Vineyard Figure Skating Club] and he’s the [MVRHS boys varsity assistant] hockey coach.”

“My training has been going really well,” Ms. Schroeder said. “A training partner is important, especially when you get older. My training partner Anita Smith has really helped me maintain a schedule of workouts.”

“I exceeded all of my expectations,” said Ms. Taylor, who was hoping to improve in her first marathon since the ING Miami Marathon in 2010. “It was hot. I was grateful to all of the volunteers who helped us runners cool down with water.”

The heat even slowed down the elite runners (both of the winners from last year’s race dropped out), who had to deal with cramps and heat exhaustion. Men’s winner Wesley Korir of Kenya had quite a battle with other top runners over the last few miles, but emerged victorious with the lead in the final mile, finishing in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 40 seconds (close to 10 min slower than last year’s winner, Geoffrey Mutai). Mr. Korir, who is currently in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, hopes to compete for his new country at the 2013 World Championships in the marathon, and will be a welcome addition to the emerging U.S. distance running team.

In the women’s race, Sharon Cherop won in grueling fashion to out-kick Jemina Jelagat Sumgong in 2 hours, 31 minutes, 50 seconds. Her victory marked the fifth consecutive year that the women’s race came down to a sprint down Boylston Street.

The top American finishers were Sheri Piers, 40 of Portland, Maine who finished in 10th place with a time of 2 hours, 41 minutes, 55 seconds and Jason Hartmann, 31 of Boulder, Colorado who finished in a triumphant 4th place with a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes, 31 seconds.

The Boston Marathon is notable for its great crowd support and electric course atmosphere. “The crowds were great,” Ms. Lewis said. “I felt like a rock star. They were such a great help, that I didn’t even realize I went over the hills.”

The 2013 Boston Marathon is on Monday, April 15. Set your watches.