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Trio completes Boston Marathon

Carroll, MacConnachie, Buchholz overcome miserable conditions



Completing the Boston Marathon, for many, will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So when Whistler runner Lee Carroll completed the course in a time of three hours, 43 minutes and two seconds (3:43:02), she made a point of taking it all in.

"Turning that last corner, Hereford Street onto Boylston, you just have this overwhelming feeling that you've worked so hard for years to get there," she said. "I yelled to a girl beside me 'Hell yeah!' We made it through all this. You soak it all in and wave your hands in the air. I was blowing kisses.

"Remember it, because it can go by so quickly."

The conditions were cold, miserable, and challenging—"freezing cold and a downpour," according to Carroll—with any time goals going out the window during the race.

"Partway through the race, I stopped checking my watch and just wanted to enjoy it and finish. With the hard weather, I just wanted to finish and stay healthy, and stay consistent," she said. "It wasn't what I wanted, but I'm very happy with how it all turned out."

Carroll qualified through the Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon in Washington state last June, which sends runners through a tunnel for 3.8 kilometres in the early part of the race.

After enduring so much to get to Massachusetts, Carroll stressed how important it was to cross the finish line, even in the face of nasty weather.

"I worked so hard to get there, so there was only one option," she said. "It was quite an awesome experience."

The two other locals who lined up at the 2018 Boston Marathon, Nancy MacConnachie and Louise Buchholz, said there was fair warning of the weather days before, but it was difficult to endure.

"It was forecast to be wet and rainy a week out, and it was so accurate," MacConnachie said. "The forecast called for torrential rain and walking to the start line, there was torrential rain."

MacConnachie said conditions ended up being tougher than anyone could have imagined, even with the accurate forecast, and runners were scrambling to find buffers against the cold and the wet before the starting gun.

"There was a last-minute change in what we were wearing and I wore a plastic bag over everything. I thought I would keep it on just for the first 10 (kilometres) because I thought it would be a bit cold because it was downhill. Then I was not warm at all, so I carried on and wore it. I wore the plastic bag all the way to the end and crossed the finish line in a plastic bag that covered me down to my ankles."

MacConnachie explained since the marathon had a point-to-point route, running northeast, competitors were facing headwinds for the whole 42.2 kms.

Ultimately, MacConnachie crossed the line in three hours, 44 minutes and 17 seconds (3:44:17), which was similar to her other paces in far superior conditions.

"I'm happy with my result. I've run a couple of other marathons and this one was three minutes slower than the other marathons that I've run. I think (because of) training in Whistler over the winter, in the rain, snow, sleet and everything, the conditions didn't really faze me that much," she said. "I think people from hot countries suffered a bit more."

If not for some fatigues in the race's later stages, MacConnachie may have even ended up besting her other times.

"The last three miles (five km), I slowed down considerably because even with the plastic bag, you're soaked straight to the skin and you're just tired," she said. "The last three miles (five km), I was having to dig deep.

"I knew I would finish at that point and I wasn't worried about my time."

MacConnachie noted she celebrated her 50th birthday last year, and after marking her 40th with a marathon, thought the prestigious Boston race would be the best way to celebrate this latest milestone. She qualified via the Boundary Bay Marathon.

Buchholz, meanwhile, qualified at the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon early in October 2016, but the 18-month gap proved fortuitous as she required knee surgery in the interim.

On Boston raceday, though, Buchholz was disappointed in her result as her qualifying time from Victoria was 44 minutes quicker than her Massachusetts showing of 4:41:47.

"It was so far off my goal," she said. "I knew I wouldn't be able to do (the same qualifying time) on the day because of the weather conditions, but it was so far off my target. I felt disillusioned right from the start."

Buchholz, who ended up suffering hypothermia, said she stuggled to get into her pockets to get nutritional supplements because her hands were frozen.

"It was so cold and so wet and so windy that nobody in their right mind would be running on a day like (that)," she said. "Yet 30,000 of us were there.

"I was cold and wet before we even started."

However, Buchholz stressed she always knew she would finish, no matter how brutal the weather.

Though it wasn't an overly positive experience, Buchholz was thrilled to race at the longest-running marathon and race in front of countless brave souls who lined the course.

"I felt really grateful to have a chance to be there and the people of Boston were incredibly supportive. The supporters were amazing. There were thousands and thousands of people lining the course from start to finish, music playing, cheers, people yelling encouragement. It was really inspiring. They were out there in those horrible conditions, freezing too, and they stood there for hours and hours," Buchholz said.

Added MacConnachie: "There was not one stretch of the road or one stretch of the race that you couldn't see someone cheering you on, which was amazing."

Buchholz added she was surprised at how appreciative some Boston residents were of the visitors, though she expects the bombing attack on the race in 2013 made them appreciative of anyone who ensures the show goes on.

"We felt a little bit like celebrities everywhere we went, at the hotel, at restaurants, on the subway. People wanted to talk to us and shake our hands and thank us for coming," she said. "The things that they've gone through in past years has made people embrace (visitors) and thank them for coming."