Marathon Runners Approach Postponement With ‘Boston Strong’ Attitude

Charlestown’s Emily Runey has been training very hard since December to run the Boston Marathon in April for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute – the medical center where her retired firefighter father gets his cancer treatment.

It has been a cause very near and dear to her heart, naturally, but now it has all changed with the postponement of the Marathon to Sept. 14 – but Runey said it isn’t dampening her enthusiasm.

“We’re raising money to help people, but we’re also postponing the race to help those same people who are vulnerable right now medically,” she said. “Boston is so resilient. We’ll come back. Time after time we continue to come back and things are better than ever. If anything, this Sept. 14 date is something to look forward to. I was happy there was a postponement. I knew there was a likelihood of that happening because in 124 years there’s never been a cancellation.”

Out of a response to the COVID-19 outbreak last Friday morning, Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin Walsh and Boston Athletic Association CEO Tom Grilk announced the postponement of the race from April 20 to Sept. 14 – which Gov. Baker has made a new Marathon Day holiday. That was a relief to many runners, charities and businesses as a cancellation would mean the loss of millions in commerce and, especially, in donations to places like Dana Farber.

“The Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) runners have trained hard and raised millions of dollars to fund vital innovative basic cancer research projects at the Institute, and we are grateful for their terrific fundraising results to date and ongoing efforts,” said Melany Duval, senior vice president and chief philanthropy officer, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “Our team’s commitment to conquer cancer remains the same despite the postponement. Every DFMC runner has been impacted by this disease, and we all know that cancer doesn’t quit. DFMC remains mission-first; whatever the time of year, our runners never stop striving for that ultimate finish line: a world without cancer.”

Runey said her training has taken a step back to accommodate the later date.

“Right now, I am definitely dialing it back,” she said. “I was supposed to do a 16-mile last weekend and that didn’t happen. I’m going more conditioning and cross-fit now. It is 26 weeks until Marathon Monday.”

One of the worries, however, is training through the hot months – which is exactly the opposite of what most trainings for the Boston Marathon are like. Also one thing that is a worry is running in mid-September when it could be 50 degrees or 80 degrees.

“It will be intense for all of us training in the summer months because we usually throw on as many layers as possible in the cold,” she said. “Maybe it will be more early morning runs or night running…It will be difficult. I think the number one concern, though, with the September date is the temperature on race day.”

Overall, though, she said she and other runners going for charity are seeing it as an expanded time to raise more money and more awareness.

“We have raised more than $30,000 over all three races I’ve run,” she said. “Now there is an extra 180 days. It simply gives more time to fundraise and get people involved…I think a lot of the runners are thinking that way…If you want renewed faith in humanity, run the Boston Marathon.”

Fundraising by DFMC team members continues at

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