Editor’s Note: When the 124th Boston Marathon was canceled in April, runners were offered a refund or the opportunity to run a ‘virtual’ marathon on a self-designed route between September 7 and 16, finishing within six hours.
Who is motivated to run 26.2 miles? A marathon runner. But, what if you have never run a marathon? Where does that crazy idea originate from that motivates a person to sign up for, train for, and run a marathon? And, for those people who were signed up to run the 2020 marathon, how did they muster up the courage to train not once but twice?
This motivation, in my personal opinion, is worthy of praise, but for the thousands of runners who signed up to run the 2020 Boston Marathon virtually, there will be no glory, there will be no fanfare, and there will not be the same feeling of pride when rounding the corner onto Boylston Street in Boston and crossing the finish line and donning a finisher medal. Running and finishing a marathon alone is just not the same, but if we have learned anything about life in a global pandemic, the only constant is change.
Changing the date to September 14th didn’t stop many runners from continuing their training efforts and fundraising, but when runners were told once again that there would be no in-person running of the marathon, many chose to get their money back but others held onto the hope that the BAA would provide an opportunity to run the race virtually. Two such runners, Laurie Zapalac and Mark Cieplinski, will be using the trails right here in Bedford and Concord to run their race on Monday, September 7th.
Cieplinski, a second-time marathon runner acknowledges that he does not have a passion for running, like some, but rather he runs for more practical reasons – he loves Cape Cod Potato Chips and high-calorie craft beer.
A long time runner, Cieplinski states, “I run for the physical and mental benefits it provides me. Running allows me to perform a self-assessment on my own health.” He goes on to say. “I believe an active lifestyle is the best medicine available to anyone.” While he admits that he can’t take credit for the following words he uses as his personal mantra, he believes that George Bernard Shaw had it right when he said. “We don’t stop playing because we get old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
Zapalac, a first-time marathon runner, is running for the Women’s Lunch Place as she is a resident in Boston’s Back Bay and is committed to the betterment and empowerment of women. While she is running for a charity and is hoping to receive more donations, her reasons for running do not begin and end with the charity – they are personal as well.
“Running for me is about connection – to nature, to others, and to myself,” said Zapalac. “Few things help me achieve the deep sense of connectedness that running brings. I also run for the challenge and the endurance building; doing that well requires rest and recovery. So running is also about finding balance and flow, but mostly deeply about connection.”
Note: Edited for clarity on September 9, 2020.