Thousands of people will line up in Hopkinton Monday morning for this year’s Boston Marathon. The competitive and historic race attracts runners from across the globe – as well as locals who have the advantage of training on the course.
This year, 64 of the 30,000 Boston Marathon runners call South Boston home. The marathon entrants from this section of the city are first-time runners and veteran athletes, members of charity teams and competitive runners.
What follows are a few of the South Boston runners’ stories. Each entrant has a story and motivation for entering the marathon, and we would love to tell them all, though space limits us from doing so. Read on to learn about a few of the runners before they take to the course Monday.
A training ground for personal goals
Dan Drapeau grew up running cross-country in a small town in western Massachusetts, but drifted away from running when he was in college. A few years after resuming the sport, Drapeau, a 31-year-old South Boston resident, is now one of the fastest entrants from South Boston in the 2016 Boston Marathon.
Of the 64 South Boston runners in the marathon, Drapeau – who is running the Boston Marathon for this first time – is at the front of that group of local runners. The Boston Marathon divides its runners into waves, and further into corrals, based on qualifying times. Drapeau is in the first corral of the first wave, runner No. 954.
Drapeau, who has lived in South Boston for about two and a half years, picked up running again in 2010 and ran a marathon in Maine.
“My competitive juices got going again,” he said.
In 2014, Drapeau finished sixth in the Maine Marathon with a time of 2:46:24. That marathon served as his qualifying race for this year’s Boston Marathon. (Men ages 18 to 34 must complete a marathon in three hours and five minutes to qualify for Boston.)
“I’ve wanted to (run the Boston Marathon) for a while, especially since the terror attacks three years ago,” Drapeau said.
On Marathon Monday in 2013, Drapeau had gone to a Red Sox game with his father. He was at his father’s Back Bay apartment that afternoon, preparing to go for a run, when news of the attacks first broke. Drapeau listened from that apartment near Brigham and Women’s Hospital to sirens from ambulances responding to the victims of the marathon bombing.
“Words can’t really describe taking in that scene,” he said.
Drapeau hopes for a finishing time between 2 hours and 33 minutes and 2 hours and 36 minutes. He plans to run the Maine Marathon again this fall and build upon the training he has done for this marathon. He aims to place first in Maine.
“Boston will certainly be a very special race for me,” he said.
Honoring the bombings’ youngest victim – Team MR8
Three years ago, Martin Richard, 8, was killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. The youngest victim of the terror attacks, Martin and his message of peace live on and are especially honored at the marathon.
Team MR8 represents the Martin Richard Foundation, created in 2014 by Martin’s parents Bill and Denise Richard. The team has 66 members participating in the Boston Marathon this year. Two of those runners – Vicky Shen and John Lutz – are from South Boston.
“Being a part of MR8 is unbelievable,” said Shen, 37, a runner with Team MR8 and a member of the foundation’s board of directors. “Everyone knows why you’re there.”
Shen, who has lived in South Boston for more than a decade, personally knew Martin and became involved with the foundation upon its inception. She is a volunteer coach with the Youth Enrichment Services track and field program, in which the Richard children participate.
In 2014, Shen ran the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon with Team MR8. Last year, she ran the Falmouth Road race with the team.
Shen was on the course with her aunt in 2013, about 10 miles from the finish line.
“It was surreal,” she said. “None of us really knew what was going on.”
Like Shen, Lutz, 25, was in the city on the day of the bombings in 2013 and counts that day as his reason for running the marathon with Team MR8.
“I vividly remember feeling helpless sitting in my office 34 floors up watching clouds of smoke pour into the streets by the Boston Marathon finish line,” he wrote in an email. “About a week later I went for a run to clear my head and I convinced myself that I was going to try and run the Boston Marathon the following year despite only having completed a few 5Ks and turkey trots in my life. I was motivated to give back to the city of Boston and lace up my sneakers and run for those who can’t.”
He started training and hoped to run in the following year’s marathon, but because there were so many people with similar intentions, he had difficulty gaining a bib with a charity team. When he heard about the creation of the Martin Richard Foundation and its team in 2014, “I immediately applied for a bib, pouring everything I had left into my responses. A few weeks later I received news that I had been hand selected to run on Team MR8. I was ecstatic!” he wrote.
This is now Lutz’s third year running the Boston Marathon with Team MR8. Over his time with the team, he has raised more than $40,000 for the Martin Richard Foundation.
“Team MR8 has become a second family for me,” Lutz wrote. “I have built lasting friendships with teammates and I’ve challenged myself year after year to improve my running.”
“That first year (the 2014 Boston Marathon), going through the process of training and meeting all of the other people that are part of MR8… for me was very helpful in sort of the healing process,” Shen said.
Shen’s personal goal this year is to raise $7,000 for the foundation – well above her minimum requirement – and the team’s goal is to raise $500,000.
“It’s a second job to train for a marathon, and it’s like a third job to fundraise,” Shen said. “(I’m) confident we’ll be able to hit that half a million mark.”
While running, Shen and Lutz consciously remember Martin Richard and his now well-known message: “No more hurting people. Peace.”
“When you’re out there with the MR8 jersey, you’re an ambassador for the foundation,” Shen said. “I want to make sure that I can be a good ambassador.”
She takes the time to high-five children along the marathon route and enjoy the day.
“I continue to run for MR8 to honor Martin’s message of peace and create a positive impact in the community,” Lutz said. “Look for the yellow jerseys next Monday!”
To learn more about the Martin Richard Foundation or to donate, visit teammr8.org.
First-time charity runner
For the third year in a row, the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation has put together a team to run in the Boston Marathon. Nick Moss, of South Boston, has pledged to raise at least $5,000 on behalf of the BCSF, which aims to extend the reach of the Celtics championship legacy into the community through programs that directly benefit children in need. This is the first Boston Marathon for Moss and he says hopefully not his last. He is looking to push himself to a new level while supporting a worthy cause.
Running to end strokes
Ryan Murphy and Meaghan Condon of South Boston will be amongst thousands this April to run the 120th Boston Marathon. While their eyes will be set on the finish line for the grueling 26.2 miles, the real finish line for Murphy and Condon, who are running as part of Tedy’s Team, led by former New England Patriots linebacker and stroke survivor, Tedy Bruschi, will be an end to stroke. Murphy will be running in honor of both of her grandfathers and her father. Condon is running once again in memory of her father and stroke hero, Patrick.
In July 2015, Murphy’s grandfather, Dale, passed away after years of battling heart disease and the after-effects of his stroke. After his passing, Murphy knew that there was no better time to challenge herself to run the Boston Marathon and no better team to do it with than Tedy’s Team, which is focused on raising funds and awareness for stroke.
“Despite being an athlete and living a healthy lifestyle, my grandfather suffered his first stroke at a relatively young age, in my presence, on our way home from a Red Sox game,” said Murphy. “I often look back at that day and am reminded that more awareness of the signs and symptoms of a stroke could have changed the outcome.”
While her grandfather’s passing is what pushed Murphy to commit to running this year’s Marathon with Tedy’s Team, it isn’t her only connection to heart disease and stroke. Her paternal grandfather, John, passed away at a young age from heart disease and her father’s health has also been affected by heart disease, including a life-saving multiple bi-pass surgery in August 2009.
“Running the Boston Marathon has been a longtime goal of mine,” Murphy explained.
In October 2009, while training for a 100-mile cycle race, Condon’s father had a fall which lead to him passing away from a stroke a week later at just 56 years-old. Having experienced the devastating effects of stroke firsthand, Condon and her family have made it their mission to raise funds and awareness of stroke to help prevent other families from experiencing something similar.
“My dad was the strongest person I’ve ever known. He always had a smile on his face, always was there to lend a helping hand, and worked hard to help provide a better life for my mom, my two brothers, and myself,” said Condon
After Condon’s brother, Nolan, ran the Boston Marathon with Tedy’s Team in 2013 and 2014, Condon decided to do the same. This year, she will be running her second Boston Marathon in memory of her father.