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Local Boston Marathon runners revel in crowd support in Hopkinton, along course

by | Apr 18, 2023 | Featured, Featured: Features

Boston Marathon

Kin Niemi shows some emotion as she passes friends on the course. PHOTO/SHARON REMSEN

Local runners participating in Monday’s 127th Boston Marathon had an extra boost at the start, with lots of support from their family, friends and neighbors, and the good feelings continued after they left town.

Resident Devin Callinan ran his first marathon, raising funds for the Hopkinton-based KeepSmilin4Abbie Foundation, and shared that it was unforgettable.

“It is truly difficult to put into words how incredible this experience was for me,” he stated. “The course is difficult — the hills are a killer — but as much as I heard about how amazing the crowds and the people are I think you have to experience it for yourself to truly grasp how magical it is. From the start line all the way to the finish line and quite literally every inch in between there were screaming fans cheering me on each and every step.

“The passion of the Boston Marathon fans was palpable — complete strangers making eye contact with you, cheering your name (it was suggested that I add it to my singlet, and it was fantastic advice!) and encouraging you along the course! I can’t say enough positive things about it, absolute cloud nine, I still haven’t come down!”

Kim Niemi ran to support the National Brain Tumor Society in honor of a friend and fellow Hopkinton resident, and she also had an emotionally uplifting experience.

“It was absolutely incredible!” she stated. “It surpassed any and all of my expectations. I smiled 95% of the time and cried the other 5% from being in awe of the entire experience. I am so grateful for everyone who came out to cheer for us runners and for everyone who supported the National Brain Tumor Society. It was a day and experience I will never forget.”

Boston Marathon

Rachel Stevenson smiles during her race.

Rachel Stevenson, running as a fundraiser for Hopkinton Girls Youth Lacrosse, was pleased to meet her personal goal of under 4 1/2 hours while enjoying the overall experience.

“I had an absolute blast!” she stated. “The support was amazing despite the wet, chilly weather. Finished in 4:21 and felt great minus some beat-up legs and toes. Kudos to the spectators who were loud and spirited in classic New England weather.”

Ashley Donnelly, a former Hopkinton High School track sprinter and recent college graduate who was running for the Korean Presbyterian Church in Greater Boston (located next to the start line), shared that it was “absolutely amazing” to run the race she had grown up watching.

“It was such a full-circle moment being a runner in the Boston Marathon after growing up in Hopkinton and being a spectator all my life,” she stated. “The nerves, excitement, and energy moving from the Athletes Village to the start line was exhilarating. After weeks and months of training, it was surreal to approach the start line knowing that all of my training was coming down to that very moment.”

Donnelly said she wanted to be careful not to go too fast the start, and she felt “very strong and steady” through Mile 9. Then her feet started to hurt, but she pushed through. She got her second wind in Wellesley, and after conquering the Newton hills, picked up her pace. She ran her last mile in 7:30 and finished with a time of 3:50:41, accomplishing her goals of under 4 hours.

“I see now why people can’t just run Boston once,” she added. “I will be back. Maybe not next year, but this is not my last time running Boston, that is for sure. Hopkinton and Boston have a special place in my heart, and I have never felt more connected to either place than I do now.”

Junaid Muhammad flew in from Pakistan to run as a fundraiser for the South Asian Circle of Hopkinton and also would like to make a return appearance.

“The 127th Boston Marathon was an unforgettable race for me,” he shared. “The course, the hills the cheering on both sides made this race the most special ever. One of the most brutal parts was summiting Heartbreak Hill in the rain, but I am glad I was able to do it. I have huge respect for the people of Massachusetts, people in Hopkinton and the South Asian Circle for their love and passion for this marathon and runners. I would definitely want to come back and run the Boston Marathon again. I am humbled to achieve a graceful finish time of 3:36:38. I am grateful to my family, the people of Massachusetts — especially Hopkinton — and my organization in Pakistan, the Geo News.”

While the weather made for a soggy start for many runners, some were fortunate to receive help staying out of the rain until it was their time to head to Boston — either in tents at the Athletes Village or from some friendly residents or businesses.

“Huge shout-out to CVS in Hopkinton for opening its doors to the runners caught in the rain at the start of the Marathon yesterday!” runner Christine Youngren shared. “It must have been a headache to clean up after. We so appreciate their efforts, kindness and welcome!”

Junaid Muhammad

Junaid Muhammad celebrates after finishing the race.


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