Cadet, Faculty Compete in Boston Marathon
Lt. Col. Troy Siemers, Lt. Col. Sam Allen, and Cadet Dante Morales '13 ran the Boston Marathon April 16. -- Photo courtesy of Lt. Col. Troy Siemers.
LEXINGTON, Va., April 30, 2012 – Three members of the VMI community braved the unusually high heat April 16 to run this year’s Boston Marathon.
Cadet Dante Morales ’13 and Lt. Col. Troy Siemers, math department head, finished the 26-mile course in 3 hours and 33 minutes, while Lt. Col. Sam Allen, associate professor of economics and business, ran a time of 3:17.
Most marathons are held in either spring or fall to avoid temperature extremes that make the event hazardous. The heat at this year’s Boston Marathon took a toll on the participants.
“It was brutal. They say the best temperature for running a marathon is below 50 degrees,” said Siemers. “It was 87 on the day we ran. The normal high is around 55.” Bostonians helped the runners cope with the heat in unique ways.
“People along the route were spraying us with garden hoses, the fire hydrants were opened up, and kids were handing out popsicles to the runners,” said Siemers.
Allen drew motivation from the crowd’s enthusiasm.
“I really relied on the people in the crowd,” said Allen. “They were just fantastic.”
While most of the course is relatively flat, a series of hills from miles 16 to 21 make the Boston Marathon a challenging race.
“A marathon on any terrain is tough, but Boston is particularly challenging,” said Allen. “It’s a hard course to start with, and the heat made it a real challenge.”
Because such a long run depletes athletes’ energy reserves, many runners depend on nutrition such as fruit or sport gel packs to sustain them through the race. For the well-prepared Morales, the race became a struggle after jostling at the start caused him to lose his gels.
“The heat only exacerbated the problem,” said Morales. “So by mile 16 I was completely tanked. From there on it was just about finishing and not about time.”
Despite the difficulties, Morales was happy to have participated.
“It was a privilege to participate in such a storied event,” said Morales.
The Boston Marathon is often seen as the pinnacle of marathon running worldwide, and the runners put much time and effort into preparing.
“I ran one long run per week to prepare. I began with running a half marathon then added one mile per week,” said Siemers. “It was six months worth of preparing, so it’s a huge time commitment.”
Morales had a similar experience, running about 30 miles every week to prepare.
The three qualified for the Boston Marathon last spring at the Shamrock Marathon held in Virginia Beach, Va.
– John Robertson IV