Headed for the Boston Marathon

Colleen Schonfield

It’s a 26-mile course through eight Massachusetts cities with the finish line in the heart of where the marathon gets its name; Boston. As one of the most difficult, the Boston Marathon boasts winding roads and steep hills, but that won’t dissuade four of Grand Valley State University’s faculty members from attempting the challenge.

After months of endurance training and practice in marathons locally, Lindsey DesArmo, Randy Winchester, Amy Bross and Scott Whisler have qualified to run in the Boston Marathon on April 20. To be eligible, runners must complete a certified standard marathon course, and meet specific race times within a runner’s age group.

Although all four participants have different backgrounds of athletic experiences, they each share their own taste in what drives their motivation to train and accomplish the Boston Marathon. For DesArmo, a GVSU health and wellness specialist, this will be her first time running in the marathon. Despite running marathons in Traverse City and Grand Rapids, she said she never planned on running in Boston until her husband qualified and encouraged her to do it.

“Once you commit to something, you don’t want to let it go,” she said. “It’s going to be exciting to be with others who are working so hard towards the same goal.”

DesArmo will be in the third wave of runners alongside 7,500 other participants, among which is Bross, a faculty member in University Development whose athletic background involves participating in triathlons.

Winchester, a faculty advisor for the GVSU running club, is also a triathlete who has been running 25K races for the last five years. He will be running in the Boston Marathon alongside his sister who qualified in the Fall. He advises marathon trainees to start out in shorter races, and work upwards from there.

“Start out with a 5K, and plan on building up to a half marathon in your first year,” he said. “It’s better to get a group together and train with them.”

Running the Boston Marathon in 2010, Whisler, a GVSU project manager in Facilities Planning, qualified for this year’s race through the Chicago Marathon; one race among 50 he is working towards as part of an overall goal of completing 50 marathons in 50 states.

“I started running marathons about seven years ago, and just happened to do a couple different states,” he said. “As time went on, it seemed when planning family vacations, I would also look for a marathon nearby. Fast forward to now, and I have around 32 marathons in 21 states completed. Now I try to get 1-2 new states in per year.”

For those wondering how Whisler prepares for each race, he said being mentally and physically prepared is key.

“…It’s good to know how you’re going to feel going into it so you know how to handle the pain,” he said. “This is why long runs are so important.”

As training is imperative for qualification and perfecting endurance rates, DesArmo shared her insight for those who are working towards running in more strenuous marathons such as Boston’s.

“You have to have rest days,” DesArmo said. “You have to push and train hard, but know when to take a break and not be burned out…it’s a balance between knowing when to push it and knowing when your body is physically fatigued.”

Kay Hart, a GVSU faculty member in Human Resources, takes exercise classes with DesArmo, and said she’s excited and proud for all four GVSU participants to represent the campus community in the Boston Marathon.

“I wish them all the luck,” Hart said. “Don’t give up, just keep going and believe in yourself. Mind over matter.”