The primary function of the Bates Student’s sports section is to cover the various athletic teams that compete for Bates. However, it would not be true to suggest that athletic competition and prowess only take place in the formal realm of organized sports. To the contrary, Bates has a proud culture of recreation that pervades the student body – from the football team to the Outing Club, and everyone in between. This past Sunday, this culture was on display as over a dozen Bates students traveled to Portland to run the Maine Half and Full Marathons.
“Marathoning” has been part of athletic culture since 1896, when it was first instituted as an Olympic event. The event was created to honor the historic glory of Greece, and in particular the fabled story of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger who is said to have ran the approximate distance of the race we know today (26.2 miles) from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to proclaim an Athenian victory in battle over the Persians.
While the Bates students running on Sunday were not carrying a message of victory, they did need a mentality of victory to complete the race. “Running marathons is a reminder that we all have the potential to be fearless warriors and set goals that are attainable and rewarding,” remarked Audrey Puleio ’17, a native Mainer who was running the Maine Marathon for the second year in a row. For Puleio, who ran with her boyfriend and former Nordic skier Emmett Peterson ’17 in his first marathon this year, racing distance was something that she got hooked on after her first marathon last year. “After having that experience, running it with my best friend, I was so inspired by how I felt and how capable I was that I was ready to gear up for my next one,” she said.
The friend that Puleio mentioned is Justine Timms ’17, who after completing the full marathon last year as her first running race of any distance, decided to scale it down and compete in the half in 2015. “This was my first half marathon, last fall I did my first full with Audrey Puleio. I was inspired to run another race because of the full last year. I wanted a goal to run for, but I just wasn’t ready for another full,” she said of her decision to train for the half.
One of the highlights for the Batesies who ran on Sunday morning was Rosy Depaul ’17, who ran a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon of 3:30.19, besting the qualifying mark by more than 4 minutes. “I decided to run this race because I wanted to challenge myself and I had a whole summer of living in
Acadia National Park ahead of me, so I figured I had the perfect place to train,” said Depaul. “Everyone cheering was so supportive and awesome, as were the other runners! Around mile 15 people started giving high fives, which was huge,” she continued, describing the incredible motivation and support that so often accompanies large road races like this one.
Another former Nordic skier, Maddy Ekey ’17 completed her first marathon over the weekend and was also spurred on by the encouragement of the race supporters. “The environment in Portland and the whole race was awesome. There was a lot of camaraderie on the course, lots of support on the sidelines most of the way,” she remarked.
The Maine Marathon course follows one of the more beautiful coastal routes that any race of this caliber follows in the country, moving from Portland to Falmouth and back again along the beautiful coastline of Casco Bay. Event organizers also choose a charity for proceeds from the race, implemented over two-year cycles. Runners are encouraged to fundraise for their races, in addition to larger beneficiaries donating to the cause of choice. In the past two years, the Maine Marathon has raised money for the Robbie Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness for children with special needs.
Running marathons is an incredibly challenging and, when you take a step back, seemingly crazy tradition in our society today. And yet every year hundreds of thousands of people across the country turn up to run an absurd distance, and even more come to support them. Christopher Mcdougall says in his book ‘Born to Run’ that, “the reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other but to be with each other.” The grit and dedication of the fearless Batesies who raced this past weekend reminds us of the important intersection between recreation and community. So here’s to you all, for your hard work and perseverance.