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Soggy stories from the Boston Marathon

April 19, 2018
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Monday marked the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon, and when it came to the weather for the race, it couldn't have been much worse. But regardless of the conditions, it's still the world's most famous footrace, and a handful of area runners who took on the course on a wet, miserable day were still thrilled to be a part of it all.

Darci LaFave, Bill Whitney and Sean Davis were three Lake Placid residents who ran the marathon. Along with the nearly 30,000 participants in this year's race, they were soaked before leaving the starting line in Hopkinton and stayed drenched the entire way until the finish line at Copely Square in downtown Boston.

Monday marked the fifth time LaFave and Whitney ran in the race, while Davis, 27, experienced the Boston Marathon for the first time.

Article Photos

Lake Placid’s Darci LaFave and Bill Whitney recalled their experiences in Monday’s Boston Marathon while relaxing at the Crowne Plaza Restort on Wednesday afternoon. The pair have now participated in the world’s most famous running race for the fifth time.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

Despite the soaking, driving rain, LaFave turned in her fastest time in five appearances in Boston, finishing the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours, 46 minutes, 37 seconds. After missing the last two Boston Marathons due to injury, Whitney, 55, again gained a charity entry slot into the marathon as a fundraiser for the American Liver Foundation. He finished in 6:45:22.

"Out of my five this was my fastest one, and it's a qualifying time for next year," said LaFave, who added she anticipates being back in the race in 2019. "I beat my qualifying standard by 14 minutes. I had a race plan. I knew what I wanted to do. I had a time for the halfway point, I was exactly where I wanted to be. Cold temperatures, I can do that. There was no plan B."

As veterans of the race, LaFave and Whitney were a little more prepared for the soggy lead up to the marathon and tried to limit the time they would be exposed to the weather prior to leaving the start line. As it turned out, they kept their running shoes mud free but said there was no way to stay dry.

"We knew that the weather was not looking favorable, so when we were leaving Lake Placid - we were flying down so we were limited in what we could bring," LaFave said. "We knew the staging area for the race was at a high school and they had big tents set up in the fields. But like any field in the rain, it gets super muddy, so I said I'm not wearing my running sneakers to the staging area. I had and old pair of hiking boots, throwaway kind of things and put my stuff I'd be wearing in the race in plastic bags."

After assembling in the staging area, runners have to walk approximately a half mile before they arrive at the start line, where they began the race in waves of 9,000. LaFave said she actually changed into her running gear in a port-a-john close to the start line, which allowed her to avoid getting her running shoes caked in mud.

"We got there and it was muddy like you wouldn't believe," she said. "I saw people with plastic bags just wrapped around their legs. There were people out there with mud all the way up their calves."

She added that living in the Adirondacks may have provided her an edge in Monday's raw conditions.

"I was ready to go. I felt ready, living here I'm used to the cool weather. I trained outside all winter, and that was in my favor. I run here in the cold all the time, so I know what works for my clothing.

"It just rained, and then it rained harder, and then it rained harder than that, with gusts of rain up to 40 miles per hour," Whitney said, adding. "Once we came out of the tent, you're soaked. Even my running shoes, once I got on pavement, my shoes were soaked in five minutes, but at least they weren't all full of mud. It was like a Spartan Run. The ground was so mealy with all those people. It was like a herd of cattle, sticky worked over mud. It was horrible."

Whitney has had surgery on both his knees in recent years and said that has hampered his training, but added he was at least pain free during the race.

"My pace was to run two minutes and walk one, I kept track of that all race and stuck to my plan 90 percent of the time," Whitney said. "I'm getting better. That was my plan. It actually distracts you looking at the watch. After doing this, hopefully I can step it up and get rid of the two-one. I got a horribly slow time, but I finished and now I have a base time to work with."

LaFave said she ran her first marathon in 2011 and Monday marked the 10th time she completed the distance in a race. She described the Boston Marathon as "iconic." Meanwhile, Whitney smiled and simply called the race and its atmosphere "Awesome."

"My dad's family all grew up in Massachusetts," LaFave said. "My grandmother grew up on Cambridge - a big Irish Catholic family with lots of siblings. She would tell me stories about how they would go onto an overpass and watch the runners. This was back in the 30s, and she would say 'Oh, we saw these 15 runners.' Now to think that there's 30,000 is huge."

In addition to loving marathons, Whitney and LaFave are also active triathletes. They both plan to be in the field when the Ironman 70.3 triathlon takes place in Lake Placid in September.

While LaFave and Whitney appeared as prepared for the wet day as much as they could be, Davis may have experienced the opposite fate. Running for the first time in Boston, Davis said he didn't realize what waited in store at the staging area. He did know however, that it wasn't a day conducive for setting any speed records, which in part led to a finish time of 3:59:11, which was well off a faster result he would have posted in favorable conditions.

As it turned out, Davis said he ran step for step alongside his father Mike, who was also making his first appearance in the Boston Marathon.

"In retrospect, I would have had a different plan heading into the race," Davis said. "I was one of those people all full of mud before I got to the start line. You have to walk more than a half mile to reach the line, and that was a long time to be exposed to the weather well before you even start running. I never imagined I'd start a race literally wearing a garbage bag. After the first seven or eight miles, I finally ditched it."

Davis felt he wasn't in peak shape entering the race, and that, coupled with the weather, were determining factors in how he approached Monday. Instead of pursuing a better time, he was just happy to be able to run alongside his father. The pair crossed the finish line together.

"It was the first Boston for both of us, and before the race, I was waffling between running my own race for time or should I run with my dad. In that kind of weather, I was just happy to gut it out with my dad. The run itself wasn't that bad but you couldn't undersell just how terrible the conditions were. It was amazing to see before the start all these runners huddled together trying to keep warm.

"We just kept our heads in the game the whole time," Davis continued. "Luckily, running with my dad made the experience that much better."

Davis, who is also a triathlete and a multiple-time finisher in the Ironman Lake Placid, said someday, he plans on going back to the Boston Marathon with the hopes of turning in what he would consider a more respectable time for a runner of his abilities. But for the first time around, he was thrilled to be among the field for the first time in the legendary race.

"The race was not ideal, but the memories will be fond. It was a totally worthwhile experience," Davis said. "I was impressed even with the conditions how many people came out. I've never seen that amount of people screaming and cheering. It was really crazy to see. Honestly, for me, the next time, it's going to be a chance to do it again. It seems like a course that really sets up well for me. I'd like the chance to race the course in peak shape and in better weather, definitely."



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