|Rich Horgan is a regular contributor to Boston.com's Marathon Blog.|
This past Saturday was the last long run for many runners.
It was estimated that there were several thousand die-hards on the course between Hopkinton and Boston College.
For many first-time marathoners, this was the longest distance they had ever run and I am sure there were a few nervous stomachs prior to the run.
The Boston Athletic Association several years back instituted a program that allows several thousand runners who otherwise would not be qualified to run the race to legally run the race in return for raising funds for worthy charities.
For some this is a way to enter the race and try to run a fast enough time to qualify for next year's race.
For others like myself, qualifying has never been an option. My best time was slightly over four hours, and that was several years ago.
For me and many of my Dana Farber teammates, this is an opportunity to work together for several months with the ultimate goal of raising millions of dollars for cancer research.
Our group gathered at Boston College at 7:30 and stretched and plotted our strategy for the day.
Just prior to beginning our 20-plus mile run, Sandy, a young mother of three boys, addressed our group. Sandy's middle son Matty was a beautiful young boy who went through the ravages of cancer, including several operations, radiation, chemo and finally amputation of one of his arms.
Tuesday was Matty's "Angelversary" – the day he left his loving family and friends.
Matty's courage and that of his brothers and relatives is a sobering reminder that although great strides have been made in research, we still have a way to go.
"Team Matty" manned a water stop on the course and many of us had our pictures taken with a large photo of a smiling Matty.
While most of the runners on the course have a time they would like run on April 15, I'm sure that others like me will feel a greater sense of accomplishment when we top our personal and team fundraising goals to help the hundreds of young cancer patients live long and productive lives.
Now comes the best part of training, tapering.
Shorter runs , healthy eating and plenty of rest.
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
- Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
- Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes