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Elated, Excited, Exhausted

Elated, Excited, ExhaustedThe Tufts team of runners, led by President Lawrence S. Bacow, made the 26.2 mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston, boosted along the way by scores of Tufts supporters. Boston.

Boston [04.22.03] More than 20,000 runners - and tens of thousands of spectators - took to the streets that mark the 26.2 mile course from Hopkinton to Copley Square. Boston's annual marathon, which winds its way from the rural roads of central Massachusetts to the climbing hills of Newton to the city streets of downtown Boston, is a major physical challenge for any athlete. But a team of nearly 40 Tufts runners, from college students to a 71-year-old, made the exhausting journey to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

› Join the President's Marathon Challenge [ read more ]
› View the Tufts Marathon Slideshow [ click here ]

"[We're running the Boston Marathon] to stay in shape, but also to mobilize the Tufts community to be more conscious of fitness and health," Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow said in a Boston Globe Sunday Magazine interview that appeared the day before the race. "Chris Economos, a faculty member at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, has done a four-year study of the dietary habits of college students and documented that ... students tend to not have healthy diets and consume far too much in the way of fat."

College students nationwide aren't putting as much emphasis on health and fitness as they should. But experts at Tufts want that to change, starting with their own students.

"We're raising $250,000 for the new Tufts Personalized Performance Program," Bacow told the Globe. "It provides a complete fitness and nutrition evaluation for students and then enrolls them in a program to monitor their fitness as well as diet and exercise."

After training for months with the help of a group of Tufts experts, the Tufts runners arrived in Hopkinton on Monday morning for the marathon, which for many was the longest run they had ever attempted.

"The atmosphere was very festive, although I think most people were experiencing excitement tinged with anxiety," Bacow said in his weekly online training journal. "It took us 20 minutes to cross the starting line. It felt good to finally start moving our legs as we all began the long journey to Boston."

In addition to the normal legions of fans -- which are widely known to be among the loudest and most supportive of any marathon -- hundreds of Tufts students, faculty, staff and alumni lined the course as volunteers and spectators to cheer on the Tufts team.

"It was fabulous seeing all the Tufts people along the course. Going through Natick we saw a bunch of people gathered at David McGrath's Animal Hospital. They gave us all a real lift as we passed by," Bacow said. "Similarly the volunteers at the water tables, all wearing Tufts hats, were terrific. I got a real lift from seeing our Tufts volunteers at miles 19 and 21 manning the water stations. I ran into a bunch of people again in Cleveland Circle. They really helped me along because I was really starting to drag at that point."

Preparing for and running a marathon can be both physically and mentally grueling. But for Bacow, the long runs offered him a unique opportunity to think about Tufts.

"When I go for my long runs, it's one of the few times that I have big blocks of time just to think about big issues. In that respect it's very helpful." Bacow told the Globe. "It's also the case that to be a successful president, you have to take a long view of the institution. I sometimes remind myself, when I'm working on issues or problems that will take years to bear fruit, that this job is not a sprint, it's a marathon."

Four hours, 49 minutes and 18 seconds after crossing the start, Bacow completed the Boston marathon. But the marathon of his presidency continues.

"I am off to see Mark Doughtie in the training room this morning, followed by a visit to Larry Warnock, our massage therapist," Bacow said. "Then it is back to work. Now that the marathon is behind me, I have a university to run."


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