The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 37.0°F | Fair

MIT Marathoners Go the Distance

By Eun J. Lee

NEWS EDITOR

According to The Tech’s meteorologists, there is a chance of showers during the day on Monday with highs in the lower 60s. However, a little rain won’t stop 20,000 runners and almost a million spectators from converging on downtown Boston to watch the 106th annual Boston Marathon.

This will be the third marathon for Daniel S. Feldman ’02, who placed 42nd two years ago in the men’s open division with a finishing time of 2 hours 33 minutes. He was the youngest male in the top 150 finishers of the entire marathon.

“It’s a lot of fun even though it’s a long way to run,” Feldman said. “My goal this year is to run it in under 2 hours 27 minutes.”

Feldman is among many MIT students, official and unofficial entrants, who are taking part in the marathon on Monday.

Flexibility, focus key to training

“I run every day and average 10 to 15 miles a day, probably closer to 15 than 10,” Feldman said. “Usually, the more serious you are about running the marathon, the more miles you put into training -- the winners probably put in about 20 miles a day.”

“I’m running about 35 miles a week with a training program that I found online,” said Kathleen R. Huffman ’04. “I have some friends who run with me sometimes, but mostly I train by myself.”

“At first I thought it would be too hard to juggle school work and training for the marathon, but I’ve managed to work in my training between my classes,” Huffman said.

Both Huffman and Feldman have been members of the track team in past years but are taking time off to train for the marathon. “Training is actually about the same time commitment as running track or cross country,” Huffman said.

‘Bandits’ make marathon unique

According to Julia Beeson, a spokesperson for the Boston Marathon organization, between 2,000 and 3,000 unregistered runners take part in the marathon every year.

“It usually depends on the weather,” Beeson said. “We don’t aggressively pull people off the course, but we don’t encourage them to run, either.”

In order to register, runners must have previously run a marathon and finished with a relatively fast qualifying time, which makes it impossible for first time marathon runners to register before for the race.

“I’m not registered because this is my first race,” Huffman said. “My goal is to run the course in under 3 hours and 40 minutes, which is the qualifying time for my age group.”

Officially registered runners are electronically timed by a chip that they wear in their shoes, and get the perks of a pasta party and official marathon t-shirt.

“We try to make the experience as pleasurable as possible for our official entrants,” Beeson said.

“If you’re not registered, you have to start behind almost 20,000 people, which makes it hard if you want to run a fast time,” Feldman said. “Some people in the very back don’t even get across the starting line until about twenty minutes after the gun starts.”

Because of Feldman’s prior success in running the Boston Marathon, he has a spot near the front of the starting line this year.

Many runners first-timers

Jonathan S. Varsanik ’04 ran the marathon last year for the first time.

“I ran with a bunch of teammates from the swim team,” Varsanik said. “It seemed like it was an experience I’d remember for the rest of my life.”

What Varsanik remembers most about the race is the enthusiasm of the spectators. “People lined the road for almost all 26 miles. On my last mile, a man from the crowd actually came and started running with me, cheering me on til the end.”

For anyone who is planning to run the race for the first time this year, Feldman offers this advice.

“The really important part it to drink both water and Gatorade at every mile,” Feldman said. “You need sugar and salt because you’ll need the energy at the end.”

Most importantly, Feldman suggests that runners stay relaxed at the beginning of the race. “You’ve gotta take it easy in the beginning because it’s a long way to the finish.”

“Immediately after the race, I wasn’t in too much pain, but after I came home, I laid down on the couch and literally didn’t move for a day,” Varsanik said.

Spectators important part of race

After months of training, this weekend is the home stretch for many who have been training for this event since as early as last fall, but it is also a fun occasion to bring people together.

Many student groups are either volunteering at the event or just going to watch the race. Burton-Conner Graduate Resident Tutor Shourov K. Chatterji G is organizing a pre-marathon brunch for students that live on his floor. Chatterji has been an avid spectator of the even for the last five years.

“We’re all going to head over to Kenmore Square at around 1:30, which is about one mile from the finish,” Chatterji said. “The leader should run by some time after 2:00.”

“My parents are coming from Ohio to watch me run,” Huffman said. “They’re going to drive me to the starting line and then wait for me at the finish, and a couple of my friends who haven’t been training are going to start the race with me and try to run it.”

Feldman plans to “take it easy” for the days leading up to the big race, which for him mean running seven miles on Friday, taking Saturday off, and running five miles on Sunday.

“No one really cares what you do the day before the race. It’s the day of that really matters,” Feldman said.

He is not sure how he is getting out to the starting line. “If I take the bus, I’ll have to wake up 5 hours before the race starts.”

Although he is not certain about whether or not he will continue to run the marathon after he graduates this summer, he is putting all his focus into the race Monday. “I’ll run this one first and see how it goes before I start thinking about next year,” Feldman said.