What It’s Really Like to be an Elite Boston Marathon Runner

He came from over a thousand miles away to go 26.2 more.

When watching the Boston Marathon as an outsider on the sidewalk, the runners that blur past can start to look like super-humans from another world.  It’s almost impossible to believe that the people before you can run 26.2 miles faster than one can drive to the Cape on a Friday afternoon. By the finish line, runners draped in Heat sheets look like gods. These runners cannot be stopped, and possess alien amounts of bravery and skill.

But as it turns out, the people that run and conquer this unfeasible marathon are real, normal people.

Last Monday Chris Dietrich of Eatonton, Georgia finished the 119th Boston Marathon in 2 hours and 52 minutes: a personal record for him, and a time fast enough to include him as one of America’s elite runners.  Dietrich’s time was only 43 minutes behind the marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, with a finish time of 2:09:17.

Runner Chris Dietrich from Georgia  at the finish line- his first time in Boston!
Runner Chris Dietrich from Georgia at the finish line…his first time in Boston!

“Although it was cold, rainy and we were running into headwinds, I still enjoyed the overall experience very much.” Deitrich shared after the race was through. “I’ll definitely be back!”

A rainy day it was. The sky in Boston was overcast all day, and storms of rain came and went. But thousands of people like Dietrich from across the globe had been preparing for this marathon for weeks, months and years, and a rain check was not an option.

Fans watch the marathon  in the Back Bay.
Despite the rain, fans watch the marathon in the Back Bay.

How does one become a mysterious, godlike runner of the Boston Marathon?

“I’ll tell you running can be very mental, you can get a lot of negative thoughts. Keep focusing 1 mile at a time.” Dietrich advises. That can be difficult for any non-runners who could very well vomit at the sight of the number 26.

“Stay hydrated,” He added. “Don’t lose sight of the end and what’s coming. Don’t get lost in the moment— a lot of folks run the whole way in an adrenaline rush, but that can hurt you. By mile 20 or 23 you might hit a wall. Try to enjoy it.”

Dietrich was born and raised in Georgia and lives there today. He ran for his high school team until graduating in 1995, and like many high school athletes he fell out of it once the lockers were cleared out and the last spring season was over. “But around 2007, I started doing small races and 5k’s, and I was hit with a running buzz.” Dietrich says he liked the competitive nature of running, and how healthy it made him feel. That buzz carried him for the next couple of years, and in 2010 his running times started getting shorter and shorter. After a marathon in Savannah, Dietrich qualified for the Boston Marathon.

So fast the runners almost disappear.
Runners almost disappear as they descend under a bridge.

Qualifying and training for the Boston Marathon is no easy feat. Dietrich had been training for twelve weeks, and he recorded the entire process on his own official marathon Facebook page. It was through this page Dietrich was asked to speak about his marathon experience. Every day throughout training Dietrich posted his run lengths and times with supreme dedication. “When you have a family and a full-time job, it takes a lot running 60 to 80 mile weeks.”

Dedicated posts like these were made by Dietrich every day on the Facebook page.
Dedicated posts like these were made by Dietrich every day on the Facebook page.

Though this was Dietrich’s first time coming to Boston, he had still felt connected and affected by the marathon bombing two years ago. Dietrich explained that the running community is a tightly woven one, and the bombings felt like an attack to all runners everywhere. “I was watching it on TV when it happened, and it was all over the news. Running, you see a lot of the same people and make a lot of friends through it…All of my running friends were talking about it, and some of my friends from Macon had gone to Boston to run. We were really scared for them, but none of them were hurt and they were okay,” Dietrich shared. Even all the way south, the panic from the marathon was felt.

This year, security lined every street, and bags had to be checked at stations the closer one got to the finish line. But the event ran smoothly, and no incidents were reported.

“It was a great experience. The community and crowd support from Hopkinton to Boston was like no other race that I’ve been in. The atmosphere was just awesome being surrounded by others who enjoy the sport of running,” said Dietrich. “[Boston] is a nice, historic place to visit. I only wish I could’ve had more time to do more sightseeing.”

Runners finally catch sight of the Citgo sign.
Runners finally catch sight of the Citgo sign.

Dietrich came to Boston with his friend Alan Black, a Master Runner who was also competing in the marathon. On Tuesday, the two returned back home on a flight from Logan Airport to Atlanta. But Dietrich’s brief time in Boston will surely never be forgotten. What is the one memory he will always think of first? “That last turn onto Boylston Street, and seeing the finish line while the crowds were cheering me on!” An unimaginable sight to see.

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