Heights runners shine at Boston

The 2009 running of the 113th Boston Marathon on April 15 massed together 23,163 dedicated runners, each meeting stringent qualifying times by age and gender, for the privilege of running an historic course covering suburban Boston towns each with its own cheering section and personality.

The 2009 race posted an amazing 98.6 percent finish rate, a tribute to the qualifying system. Just to qualify for this prestigious race is the dream of every serious runner. Lisa Robertson and Mark Bellini were among 14 Cleveland Heights residents to qualify for the 26.2 mile race.

Lisa, 39, is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University with an MA in art history. She is a professor of art history, teaching part time at Cleveland State and John Carroll universities. Lisa is a veteran of 10 marathons and qualified for Boston with a 3:19:35 at the Columbus Marathon.

Recalling her best moment at Boston she remembers a time in Natick at about mile 10, "I felt really good, there was music playing, I was laughing, soaking up the cheers and encouragement from the crowd lining the street and the companionship of my fellow runners, it was a perfect moment."

Later in the race things got a little dicey for Lisa, "at mile 23, I was in a medical tent feeling woozy and worrying I would not be able to finish after reacting to something I had eaten the night before." Regardless, she got back on the road and finished with a time of 3:35:34.

Reflecting on the race, Lisa said, "I tried to approach running Boston as a treat, not a race per se. If you try to run really hard at Boston you risk missing out on slapping hands with kids' hands, reading all the creative signs on Heartbreak Hill and the crazy cheers from the Boston College students." Lisa will run her next marathon in Columbus in October.

Mark, 39, is a graduate of Cleveland State with a degree in business administration and works at the Cleveland Heights Community Center as an attendant in the fitness center. He has run five marathons and qualified for Boston with a 3:15:33, making the cut by just 26 seconds. Mark was thrilled to qualify but admits "that was a little too close for comfort."

Leading up to the start the runners gathered at Athletes Village for final instructions and preparations. Mark was aware that "everywhere you looked you saw not just runners but great runners and you sense they have all trained as hard or harder than you to get there. It was an incredible feeling."

When asked to recall the worst moment of the race Mark replied, "Wow, there were no worst moments just 26.2 miles of smiles." He says, "the best moment was the famous 'wall of sound' at Wellesley College, so many people going crazy with encouraging cheers so loud you could hear them from a mile and a half away as you approached the campus.

For Mark, Boston was an experience of a lifetime, "just qualifying is special and running it is even better. No marathon in the world has its history." He finished with a time of 3:21:44 and a smile on his face.

Congratulations to Lisa, Mark and the other 12 runners from our community that trained so hard and ran so well at Boston.

Tom Woodworth is a retired advertising and public relations professional and currently volunteers as a business counselor with SCORE. In 1981 at age 44 he ran the Revco, his only marathon, with a time of 3:35:37.

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Volume 2, Issue 6, Posted 7:08 PM, 05.18.2009