UNH Professors, local citizens bring the Marathon back

By Brian Malnati
On April 25, 2014

As people awoke on the morning of Patriots Day in Boston, many lined the streets from Hopkinton to Boston. Kids sat on their parents' shoulders anxious to see what awaited, while runners got into the mindset of determination and honor. 

Presidents Day in Boston had the schools shut down, people got the day off from work and the city came together for two traditions people love: the Red Sox at Fenway Park in the late morning and the runners in the first heats of their 26.2-mile journey.

A year after the horrific bombings that shook the city of Boston, 36,000 runners from all around the world set out to run as one. 

"I am so very honored and so happy to be part of this marathon; no matter what happens I am very proud to be there, it is going to be very emotional," said UNH Professor Sinthy Kounlasa of Dover, N.H., who ran in her 12th Boston Marathon on Monday.

Monday may have been Kounlasa's 12th Boston Marathon, but it was also her 92nd marathon in total. After all those marathons, Kounlasa said there is no other marathon better than Boston's. As long as she keeps qualifying for the Boston Marathon, she will keep running for many years to come. 

"I feel like everybody will feel the same way with nerves when you turn the corner onto Boylston because that is where most people stand and I know security is very tight this year. You can not pick a spot and you cannot live in fear," Kounlasa said. 

The turnout at this years marathon was one of the highest it has been in years, but it also had the tightest security due to last year's bombingsAs a result, no backpacks were allowed on Boylston Street.

Runners were treated no differently. Previously, runners used to be able to bring their backpacks to Athletes' Village in Hopkinton, Mass., and then it would be shipped back to them when the race was done via a bus. However, runners must wear throw-away clothes if they need to take off any layers.

UNH Professor Summer Cook of Madbury, N.H., ran her fourth Boston Marathon Monday. She said that this year changed drastically due to security and runner restrictions. While it changed with security, Cook said her reasons for running changed as well.

"There is a lot more meaning to this one," Cook said. "I don't feel like this is about me anymore, but I have my goals and standards, but I am just glad to be apart of this 'Take Back the Marathon' like you hear on the news. Just to be apart of that will feel good to me." 

Both UNH professors shared the same goal for Monday: To finish the 118th Boston Marathon.

Summer Cook cruised the course with an official time of 3:22:03 setting pace with 0:07:43 per mile. Shortly after, Sinthy Kounlasa crossed the finish line with an official time of 4:03:45, having a pace of 0:09:18 mile. 

The 118th Boston Marathon had 9,000 more runners this year than last year. 

"I think that people now have the courage to get back out there and run for the city as well as themselves," said Bobby Hartwell of Bedford, Mass. "This marathon is such a feel good moment for the people who run this race knowing they stand together as one."

Meb Keflezighi of California was crowned the first American man to win the Men's Division since 1983, coming across the finish line with a time of 2:08:37. While on the other side, Rita Jeptoo of Kenya won her second consecutive marathon in the Women's Division recording a staggering 2:18:57.

"Just to be there and be able to run with all of these runners," Kounlasa said, "especially after what happened last year, there is no way I was missing this year." 

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