Tufts Marathon Team gears up for race in spring
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 01:10
Though the annual spring Boston Marathon is over six months away, members of the Tufts Marathon Team (TMT) are already well into their 30−week training regime. The team, now in its tenth year, will for the second year in a row consist of 100 runners, half the size of the 2010 team.
Formerly known at the President’s Marathon Challenge, TMT has since 2003 supported members of the greater Tufts community as they trained and participated in the 26.2−mile race. Through a partnership with John Hancock Financial Services, TMT runners are able to bypass the marathon’s time qualification requirements by receiving a charity number in exchange for fundraising for the Friedman School of Nutrition and Science Policy.
The original ten−year contract brokered between the university and its sponsor was extended last spring for two additional years, provided the size of the team was reduced from 200 to 100. John Hancock has agreed to support the Tufts team only through 2015, according to TMT Coach Don Megerle.
“After that, we may disappear,” Megerle said. “[John Hancock] didn’t want to rubberstamp this, and what we have is a real luxury.”
In the past, interested participants joined the team directly through the TMT website, but this year, marathon hopefuls will need to sign up first with John Hancock online, according to Megerle. The team membership will be finalized in December, he noted, following a qualifying run designed to demonstrate runner’s commitment rather than ability.
Last year, fundraising requirements increased from $1,000 to $1,500 for students and from $2,500 to $5,000 for alumni, parents, faculty and staff. Megerle believes the increased financial obligation was responsible for last spring’s lower number of non−student participants.
“I think this year will be very similar,” he said. “Graduate students and seniors will make up the majority of the team.”
Megerle anticipates that the team will be composed of about 75 undergraduate and graduate students, and 25 other members of the Tufts community, including parents, alumni, faculty and staff.
Among the runners will be Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, joining the TMT for the third time, Megerle said.
“He trained with us a few years ago,” he said. “He told me that if it weren’t through running with us he never would have gotten to see and know the Tufts community so well.”
Though he will not run the race in April, University President Anthony Monaco has participated in some of the team’s Sunday training runs this fall.
“It’s been fun,” senior Jackie Cygelman, who is training with TMT, said. “He runs next to some students. He smiles, waves, chats.”
“This summer we went out and got [Monaco] a decent pair of shoes from Marathon Sports,” Megerle added. “He shows an interest, and he’s really sincere about it.”
Megerle encourages students who do not make the official team, particularly underclassmen, to still train with TMT and run the marathon as “bandits,” or runners in the back of the pack without official numbers.
“I hope that everyone can stick with it,” he said.
Sophomore Isabella Slaby does not anticipate receiving a TMT number but plans to run the race unofficially.
“I’m very excited to be training with them,” Slaby said. “The coach is wonderful. I’ve heard great stories about how good he is. He’s a legend.”
Runners who are not officially a member of TMT can still train with the group and wear the team singlet. Graduate student Jen Iassogna (LA ’11), who ran with TMT last year, noted the benefits of training with the team afforded to those with and without race numbers.
“I wouldn’t have known how to go about training safely, and I wouldn’t have had the training partners to help push through,” she said.