Among the 27,000 participants of the 117th Boston Marathon will be a handful of Emersonians running to help others, overcome personal obstacles, or just show themselves what they’re made of.
Assistant Professor Angela Cooke-Jackson, who is running, says the experience is “so relatable to the rest of your life.”
“You’re in pain and you want to stop, and you’re hallucinating, and you have all these things happening in your body,” said Cooke-Jackson, who last ran a marathon in Ohio in 1998. “You get to the 17th mile and you have to finish, and you have to get strategic and very mental. It’s a powerful metaphor for life.”
Cooke-Jackson and Sandy Gonzalez, an administrative assistant, both of the Communication Studies Department, are part of Team Stork, which raises money for the neonatal unit of Brigham and Women’s Hospital—an issue both women said were close to them due to personal experiences. Cooke-Jackson has also done a wealth of research on prenatal issues among women of color.
Gonzalez, who is running her first marathon, said she ran track and field throughout high school but has been less active in recent years, and also suffered occasional health setbacks. Now she is moving full speed ahead.
“Getting myself to a point where my body was strong again is awesome and really, really cool,” said Gonzalez, who has trained in recent weeks along the 26.2-mile course. “Just the fact that I’ve gotten myself to this point makes me really happy.”
Cooke-Jackson suffered a leg and back injury about six years ago and has continually increased her exercise habits since, she said, teaching aerobics and spinning classes and running shorter distances before beginning marathon training in the last year.
“Moving forward had been painful,” she said. “But I’m an exercise maniac. I really, really love running.”
First-time marathoner Brendan Scully ’15, who ran a 17-mile practice run a few days ago, simply wants to see what he can accomplish.
“We’re young. We’re just doing this to see if we can do it,” Scully said.
It’s the second marathon for his pal and Phi Alpha Tau brother Christian Bergen-Aragon ’15, who ran last year’s Boston Marathon in historic record heat.
“It was miserable,” said Bergen-Aragon, who temporarily succumbed to the hot temperatures at the medical tent on mile 19. “The hardest part was sitting down after running 19 miles and having to get back up again. Everything locked up.”
It was struggling to run the final three miles with friends, including Scully, when Bergen-Aragon said to him, “Why don’t you run the whole marathon with me next year?”
The pair is running with Kappa Gamma Chi sister Lauren Cortizo ’13, also a first-time marathoner who is raising money for Casa Myrna, a Boston-based nonprofit organization that helps domestic violence victims.
Running the Boston Marathon “has been on my bucket list forever,” Cortizo said. “I’ve always been an athlete. It’s hard to think of a pinnacle event once you stop playing sports on a team. The Boston Marathon, that’s one of the things I have to do before I die. I figure I’m living in Boston now, so I might as well do it.”
Another Emersonian participating is Kristen McGill, fitness specialist at the campus fitness center, who is running her first marathon with her twin sister to raise money for the McCourt Foundation for Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis.