Why I’m running Boston

By Olympian Jared Ward

I’ve loved racing since I was a little kid. In elementary school I would clamor for the day in PE when we’d run the mile. Maybe my excitement was partially rooted in aversion to underperforming in contact sports, but I felt like racing had to be one of the rawest forms of competition. And I loved it. In the days before an announced upcoming PE race I would drop my backpack at the start of our elementary race course and practice my mile, each year hopeful I could best my previous time.

Running, in the years that have followed, has changed in some ways. Coaches offered new ways to train, teammates brought synergy to training and racing, and years have offered experience. But some things haven’t changed. I still love racing, I still love trying to go faster than I ever have before, and I love lining up next to athletes with better lifetime bests as an opportunity for me to better mine.

But marathoning has added something to my love of running. It features one more aspect of competition: me versus the marathon. Sometimes I win, sometimes the marathon wins. I’m racing against the other athletes, but we’re all just trying to be the first one to beat the marathon. And the Boston course, in particular, has a fight. Some shy away from marathons with this kind of fight, and opt for races with more consistent weather and a smoother course. But I love the fight. To be the first to cross the finish line in Boston etches the winner into a history that spans more than a century. But every runner on the line has an opportunity to beat Boston. I like that.

To say Boston is unique is an understatement. This marathon needs no introduction or explanation. When I say I’m running Boston you know what I mean. Boston also houses some of the best sports fans, and I get chills thinking about the crescendo of buzz that spans the course from Hopkinton to Copley Square.

I finished 10th in 2017, but in some ways still felt like the course beat me. I’m back for a rematch. And Boston, I’m fitter this time. Better bring your A game.