Berkshire County Residents Head East to Tackle Boston Marathon
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — For an activity that seems so solitary, long-distance running is all about community.
On Monday, the running community converges on Boston for the 120th edition of the Boston Marathon. As usual, there is a healthy contingent of Berkshire County residents making the trip east to tackle the world's best known 26.2-miler.
For the Wilson family, the Patriots Day event is a family tradition that goes back to 2003, the first of 14 straight Bostons for David Wilson, 54.
On Monday, his son Logan, a 21-year-old Mount Greylock Regional School graduate and Northeastern University student, joins his father for the first time as one of the thousands who will head from Hopkinton to Boylston Street.
But Logan and the rest of the family are well acquainted with the thousands more who line the streets of greater Boston to cheer on the runners and wheelchair athletes.
"There were years we'd take the train out and see [David] at other places like the Natick area and then back to the finish line," said Sherri Wilson, David's wife and Logan's mom. "Of course, by then you're peering over hundreds of people to see the finish line. But it's very exciting.
"With all those people, it's amazing how supportive everyone is, and they're all recognizing you're there for someone. There are times when you'll talk to someone standing around you, and they'll tell you who they're cheering for and they'll say, 'Oh, here comes so and so,' and everyone in the area will take up the cheer for that person."
David Wilson admitted it is hard to pick out individual cheers in the din that greets runners along the route, but he always knew they were there.
And this year two members of the family will be together at the start.
Although David and Logan have different seed times and will start in different waves of the race, they will get to hang out with the rest of the runners waiting to take off on Monday morning.
"I won't see him during the race," David said. "He would have the option of hanging back … but I don't want that for him.
"We'll see each other in the starting area in Hopkinton, the athletes village. They pack thousands of people into, and basically you can't even get into that area unless you're a runner. You have to go in on special buses."
Logan Wilson will not be the only Berkshire County resident making his first trip to the athletes village. Dalton's Jennifer Bell, Williamstown's Adam Falk and Pittsfield's Sam Russo each is looking forward to his or her first Boston Marathon on Monday.
And for each, in a way, the event is about community.
Russo is one of many runners who is participating in the event for charity. In his case, his entry came through Gronk Nation, the foundation headed by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Unlike more serious marathoners, Russo did not qualify for Monday's marathon, but he is serious about giving back to the Berkshires.
The St. Joseph Central School alumnus left the area to attend West Point and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan flying Blackhawk helicopters before finishing his military career in Washington, D.C. Recently, he returned to the area with his wife.
He is no stranger to raising money for charity through road races. In the past, Russo has run to raise money for groups like Soldier on and the Intrepid Hero's Fund. His only prior marathon was in the Memorial Day event that used to run out of Lenox but now has moved to Ski Butternut in Great Barrington.
Through his participation in Gronk Nation, Russo is raising money to benefit the Pittsfield Youth Football Program.
"When I got back to the Berkshires, I wanted to find a way to connect to the community and give back to the organizations I felt impacted me growing up," Russo said. "Although I didn't play in Pittsfield — I played in Dalton — I feel strongly about youth sports. A lot of kids come into their own playing sports."
Russo, 32, is looking forward to his first Boston Marathon experience.
"I certainly feel fortunate to be able to participate in the Boston Marathon," he said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity — especially for me, because I'm probably not going to qualify for it any time soon.
"I'm sure there's a level of excitement and energy that flows through the runners and the spectators. To feel that will be absolutely amazing."
Dalton's Bell, 50, has felt that feeling before, and she will have a new perspective on Monday.
Bell is running her eighth marathon. She qualified at last year's Providence Marathon in Rhode Island.
In the past, she also has run the Boston Athletic Association's 5K, but the marathon has long been a goal.
"I grew up in the eastern part of the state, so I watched it many times over the years," Bell said. "Last year, I was lucky enough to be at the finish line watching with my daughter.
"I think it's very inspiring, especially when you are a runner. You know the dedication it takes, especially for the elite athletes to conquer that distance. It's just very inspiring to watch."
Falk, the president of Williams College, drew inspiration from the college community after he arrived on campus in 2010.
"I only started running when I came to Williamstown," he said. "It's such a wonderful landscape to run in. I feel sorry for people who have to train in cities and run in cities. It must be a very different experience from running on the roads here.
"And Williams is a community that encourages you to be active and outside both explicitly and implicitly. You move here, and you discover your friends outside and doing things."
Falk has run two marathons before — the Mohawk-Hudson in Schenectady, N.Y., and the Toronto Marathon in November.
"I've never been to the Boston Marathon," he said this week. "I've never had that experience of a big city marathon — even Toronto, which is big, is nothing like Boston. I'm excited to see what all of that is like and to be a part of it.
"I think that for anyone who has the opportunity to run, Boston is another category."
While Falk and other Berkshire County residents enjoy working out on hilly rural roads, Logan Wilson will enjoy the "home course" advantage on Monday.
"I'm on the club running team at Northeastern," he said. "There are 11 of us doing [the marathon] this year. That gives us a good group to train with. For a lot of the long runs on the weekends, we've made a point of doing different sections of course. We've done all the miles at least once and some of the sections regularly."
Wilson, who also qualified at Providence last year, cannot wait to make his move from the sidewalk to the course.
"Marathon day was always such an exciting day," he said this week in a telephone interview from Boston. "It's not every day that an entire city gets taken over by runners.
"I have this ridiculous grin on my face right now just talking about it."
Berkshire County residents running in Monday's Boston Marathon include:
Jennifer L. Bell, 50, Dalton; Nicholas D. Curelop, 27, Housatonic; Adam F. Falk, 50, Williamstown; Leatrice S. Finck, 60, West Stockbridge; Lauren Gotlieb, 47, Williamstown; Joseph J. Gwozdz, 61, Cheshire; John Kemp, 48, Sheffield; Matt Kinnaman, 55, Lee; Samuel J. Russo, 32, Pittsfield; Deanna Salvagni-Atwell, 37, North Adams; Lisa A. Sheldon, 45, Williamstown; Elizabeth S. St. Clair, 57, Williamstown; Steve R. St. Clair, 57, Williamstown; Ann Marie Swann, 47, Williamstown; Karen T. Vidoli, Lee; David W. Wilson, Lanesborough; Logan Wilson, 21, Lanesborough.
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