UNH student takes on Boston Marathon for third time

By Brittany Schaefer
On April 1, 2014

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's most prestigious road racing events. And for UNH sophomore Brooke McMullen, this year's marathon will be the third time she looks to conquer the 26-mile event.

A native of Hopkinton, Mass., McMullen grew up watching the Boston Marathon. Running the race, which starts in McMullen's hometown, was always a goal for her, yet she didn't believe she could do it at first. But on April 21, McMullen will hope that the third time is the charm.

This past year was not her easiest when it comes to running. While running the Boston Marathon last year McMullen had to stop at the ninth mile due to a stress fracture in her hip. 

"The scariest part is that the doctor said if I fell, or anything, I would need hip replacement surgery," McMullen said. "I was so upset I didn't get to finish the race."

McMullen was in the hospital when she saw on TV what had happened at the marathon's finish line. 

"I can take myself back to the exact moment," McMullen said. "I turned on the TV to see who finished first, but the news was covering the bombing. My first reaction was confusion."

A few precautionary changes will be made in this year's 118th Boston Marathon. All runners must wear their bib numbers and they must be visible. In previous years runners could wear costumes while running, but that won't be allowed. No bags will be allowed on the premise. Also, there will be an expected rise in police presence.

The fear of running from last year's tragedy has not crossed McMullen's mind. 

"The BAA [Boston Athletic Association] wouldn't have the marathon if they were worried," McMullen said. "People are coming from all across the nation, the BAA has to ensure safety."

McMullen is also running for a cause. She is supporting Best Buddies, a non-profit organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities integrate with others.

Because McMullen is a communication sciences and disorders major, this organization is close to her heart. She has been involved with Best Buddies since her freshman year of high school. McMullen became secretary for the Best Buddies chapter and mentored two students who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

She has continued her involvement with Best Buddies by joining the chapter at UNH, where she is mentoring a 21-year-old named Sam. McMullen brings Sam to UNH sporting events, out to eat, and to other events. McMullen has raised over $3,500 so far for Best Buddies and has a goal of $4,000. Best Buddies has raised $100,076 to date, according to its website.

McMullen is running this year's marathon as a part of Team Best Buddies in Massachusetts. There are about 20 other people on this team. 

During her first time running the Boston Marathon, McMullen was in the sweltering 90-degree heat. Last year she suffered an injury. This past year McMullen has had shin splints and, unfortunately, hasn't been able to train as much as previous years, but she still is determined to accomplish her goals. 

Although she has been injured, McMullen has the same passion for this upcoming marathon as she has always had. Her biggest challenge will be her mental block upon not being able to finish all 26.2 miles, but she still thinks of herself as "fearless."

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