Some runners with Ellicottville ties may have had a long distance to travel to get to the Boston Marathon, but it was running the last 26 miles when they got there that was the most grueling.
Both Nancy Abriatis of Ellicottville and Jamie Emerson, whose parents reside in Great Valley, made the trip after qualifying to run in the marathon.
Mrs. Abriatis said she began running about 12 years ago after always walking or exercising in some way.
“I wanted to speed things up,” she said adding, running has been a fun way to stay healthy and fit. Since then she has participated in more than 130 races from 5ks to half-marathons and participated in triathlons the last four years. She has met a lot of people doing so. She said she ran her first marathon last May in Cleveland and was surprised to learn she qualified for Boston. She trained every Saturday morning by running distances with Fleet Feet Training in Buffalo. Swimming and biking were also part of her 18 weeks of training.
She was then ready to head to the Boston event she knew would be special.
“It’s an awesome experience, one I will never forget,” she said, adding 27,000 people entered the race but because of the sweltering heat many runners chose not to run or did not finish.
She, too, chose to focus on completing the race, rather than time, noting she concentrated on running smart, staying hydrated, finishing and enjoying the experience.
“It was truly amazing,” she said, adding the marathon is something she would definitely do again if she ever qualified again. Part of the enjoyment came from the spectators, who, she
said, line the streets cheering the whole marathon route. Those watching this year included two of her sons, who traveled from Washington, D.C., as did relatives from Pittsburgh and Chicago.
Mrs. Abriatis runs a registered family day care in her Ellicottville home, where she has resided for more than 30 years with her husband, Denny.
Emerson said he always tried to stay in shape but began running regularly in preparation for the 2008 Utica Boilermaker 15k after a friend suggested running the race. He has run that race annually since, with a personal best time of 56 minutes 11 seconds. He decided to try marathons, hoping to qualify for Boston. Training for the Boston Marathon began for Emerson in 2010.
“I wanted to participate in the Boston Marathon because of the great history of the race,” he said. “To me, part of the thrill of the Boston Marathon is the knowledge that not just anyone can run the Boston Marathon,” he said.
So, Emerson trained and ran a time of 3:10:28 at a Rehoboth Marathon, meeting the qualifying time set by the Boston Athletic Association. He travelled to Boston for the 116th marathon to find extreme heat, which he said made the 26.2 mile journey quite difficult.
The atmosphere helped him press on, however. “The atmosphere for the race is unlike any other that I have experienced,” he said, adding people line the sides of the course from start to finish with energy, support, cheering, water, ice, cold washcloths, wet sponges, orange slices, popsicles and more.
“One woman actually refilled my empty water bottle for me after Heartbreak Hill … and I needed every drop in order to reach the finish,” he said. Emerson said he began to struggle with dehydration and heat-related issues after the 14th mile. He continued to run eight more, taking Gatorade and water breaks. He finished the last several miles by walking.
Despite that, he encourages others to become fit by pursuing an activity they enjoy.
“Running is great for me because you can do it anytime and anywhere, and you do not need any special equipment other than a good pair of running shoes,” he said, adding in addition to helping him stay fit, running is also a stress reliever and prepares him for other athletic activity.
Emerson graduated from Ellicottville Central in 1989, SUNY Geneseo in 1993, received a master’s degree in math from Syracuse University in 1995 and a Ph.D. In economics from Syracuse in 2001. He has taught economics at several universities including Hobart and William Smith and currently teaches in the Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University.
After their recent journey to the Boston Marathon, both Mr. Emerson and Mrs. Arbriatis can add their participation to their list of accomplishments. Also running in the marathon was Amy Reed, who could not be reached to comment.