Credit: Courtesy of Richard Battaglia

In the long run: The journey to the marathon

The starting line of this year’s marathon is also the finish line of two years of delays, cancellations and virtual running. The 126th annual Boston Marathon will be held on April 18, 2022. As usual, the marathon is scheduled on Patriots’ Day, but the 2020 and 2021 marathon dates were altered due to concerns regarding COVID-19, with 2020 being virtual and 2021 getting delayed. Runners are looking forward to the return to normalcy.

“2020 was the hardest year since everything was shut down,” Wayland Middle School science teacher Richard Battaglia said. “They didn’t have the Boston Marathon in-person, and everybody had to do it virtually. This year, things seem to be getting more and more back to normal.”

The 2022 Boston Marathon will be Battaglia’s fourth in a row, though he’s run a total of 10 marathons overall. To many, including him, the marathon has become a beloved tradition, capable of uniting the city and bringing runners, volunteers and spectators together.

“I run [the Boston Marathon] because I’m a New Englander, and it’s just such a big event locally,” Battaglia said.

Motivation and support are huge factors for running a marathon. The crowds and volunteers play a crucial role in helping the runners overcome mental and physical obstacles along the course, such as a lack of water and nutrients.

“Boston’s special because I have friends along the course,” Battaglia said. “My family and my kids, they’re always in the same spot in Brookline, so at mile 22 or 23. When I’m really tired, I’ll be able to see them on the course and do a quick stop before I keep going.”

Having participated in half-marathons in the past, volunteer Jin Huang decided to help out at the Boston Marathon. Among other duties, she was assigned to a hydration station about five miles into the race.

“I chose to volunteer because, for all the marathons or half-marathons, the runners definitely need a lot of that help along the way,” Huang said. “On the race course, they need water and many other supplies as well, which are very important. When it comes to runners, you run, you get help and you help others.”

Since the hours-long run is taxing for runners both mentally and physically, participants practice constantly in the weeks before the event.

“Marathon training is as much mental as it is physical,” Battaglia said. “You’re training your muscles, but you’re also training your mind to kind of keep yourself at a threshold where you’re not really burning every match you have and going into the red,” Battaglia said. “For me, I put in that time, effort and hard work towards running a good race on Marathon Monday, but you can apply it to almost anything, whatever your passion is.

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