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Tufts Runners Meet Marathon Challenge

 Tufts Runners Meet Marathon ChallengeMorethan 200 members of the Tufts community set out on the historic26.2 mile route from Hopkinton to Boston to raise money for healthresearch on campus.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.19.05] After raising $350,000 last year for health and nutrition research, the Tufts President's Challenge Marathon Team aimed to surpass that amount when they hit the pavement on Patriot's Day for the 109th running of Boston's historic marathon.

"We have 200 runners from Tufts competing today - students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, parents and friends of the University - all running to raise money for research in support of work on obesity, nutrition, fitness, aging and wellness," Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow told CBS4-TV (Channel 4, Boston) during a live interview before the start of the marathon.



A gallery of photos from the race


Coach Don Megerle talks about three runners who overcame physical odds to compete in the Marathon
Megerle talks about the mood at the pre-marathon group dinner
Megerle talks about those who cheered on the Tufts runners from Mile 9 at the home of Tufts trustee David J. McGrath III.
Megerle talks about the reaction when Tufts runners began crossing the finish line.

The team trained for months, gathering early in the morning on even the coldest days of winter, to run around Medford and Somerville. And on a warm marathon day under a brutal sun, nearly every Tufts runner completed the course.

"It's been fun dealing with the kids in a personal way: answering their e-mails and questions about training and injuries," Don Megerle, coach and director of the Challenge, told the Somerville Journal. Prior to this year, Megerle coached the Tufts swimming team for more than three decades.

The diversity of the team - drawing members from all corners of University life - has been a boon in more ways than one.

"It's a great way to get to know a lot of students," President Bacow, the team's leader, told the Journal.

Many of the student runners felt the same way about getting to know the President during the months of training together. Joe Doiron (G'06), a student and team member, told CBS4-TV that he has appreciated the experience of training and running with President Bacow.

"It's rare that you see someone really put their actions behind their words," he told the news station. "He certainly does that."

Not only did Tufts put 200 marathoners out on the course, but 350 members of the University community also lined the route to hand out water to runners pounding the pavement.

"This team is amazing in raising support for this," Tufts strength training expert and marathon runner Miriam Nelson told CBS4-TV. "I think it's the only university team like this."

There were also a number of University spectators, including a group of parents, friends and alumni who gathered at the veterinary clinic of Tufts trustee David J. McGrath III along mile 9.

"We see our first Tufts runner, wearing the yellow jersey, and the place erupts. It goes nuts," recalled Megerle. "We're clapping for people, cheering them on."

Even the runners, as they battled hot sun and hard asphalt, noticed the big Tufts turnout.

"The runners would finish and say, 'Man, there were so many Tufts people out there along the route,'" said Megerle.

While the team fielded a mix of personalities from all corners of Tufts, Bacow says that their shared effort and determination united them.

"When you get out in shorts and a T-shirt - or sweats in the winter - it really breaks down the barriers," he told the Journal. "We're all runners."

Besides the fundraising, the exercise and the camaraderie, running the marathon has another benefit.

''It's uninterrupted time, which is exceedingly rare," Bacow told The Boston Globe.

Upon completing the marathon, each Tufts finisher was greeted by Coach Megerle.

"As they were crossing the finish line, they don't know anyone on the [Boston Athletic Association] staff, and as they would get under the bridge and see me, the first person they know, there was that immediate exciting reaction," he recalled. "As a coach when someone wins an event at a big meet, we get that excitement once. I got 100 of those yesterday or more, left and right."

The mood at the finish line was a feeling Megerle will never forget.

"You had to be there to really feel what was going on in the mix of the finishing area," said Megerle. "It is something to behold."


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