Marathon challenge

Team Tufts to run Boston to benefit performance program

On April 21, Patriot's Day, more than 20,000 athletes and 500,000 spectators and volunteers will line the 26.2-mile course of Boston's 107th annual marathon.

Among them will be a team of Tufts runners, led by Tufts President Lawrence S. Bacow, who will race along the historic course in an effort to raise more than $250,000 to support the Tufts Personalized Performance Program, a customized fitness, health and nutrition assessment that is free of charge to all Tufts undergraduates. The goal of the program is to promote healthy lifestyles while students are at Tufts—and after graduation.

President Bacow trains with members of the Tufts marathon contingent.

The Tufts marathon team—comprising 12 students from the undergraduate schools, the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Fletcher, the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the School of Medicine, five alumni as well as faculty, staff and parents—has been training for Boston since January during one of the worst winters in recent memory.

"Training has been tough this winter with lots of snow and very cold weather. I have been trying to get out three times during the work week for relatively short runs—usually five to six miles—followed by a long run on the weekend," Bacow writes in a training journal he is keeping. "This past weekend, I ran 17 miles in the rain on Sunday. It was miserable…By the end of the run, I was soaked. My shoes were completely soaked through, and I developed a blister on my left foot. In fact, my left shoe was blood-stained—a badge of honor for a long-distance runner," writes Bacow, who hopes to complete the race in four hours, 30 minutes or less.

So what can you do to support the Tufts team? You can give to the Tufts Marathon Challenge. Information about giving to the Challenge can be found on the web site The site also contains information about the runners, the president's running journal and brief profiles of the trainers who are helping the team prepare for the 26.2-mile run.

Tufts assembled an outstanding group of trainers, including fitness, health and nutrition experts, as well as a former marathon winner. Training and advising the Tufts team are Branwen Smith-King, a former Olympic track coach and assistant director of athletics at Tufts; Mike Pimentel, director of the Personalized Performance Program; Chris Economos, assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts and the former nutritionist for the New York Islanders hockey team; Jack Fultz, lecturer in sports psychology at Tufts, who won Boston in 1976 with a time of 2:20:19, running in temperatures hovering around 100 degrees; Miriam Nelson, professor of nutrition and the author of the Strong Women book series; Larry Warnock, who teaches in Tufts' physical education department and is a nationally certified expert in seven types of massage therapy; and Bill Gehling, director of athletics at Tufts.

Ranked just behind the Super Bowl, the Boston Marathon is considered the largest, oldest and most prestigious annual sporting event of its kind. The historic course begins west of Boston in the rural town of Hopkinton, Mass., passes through six other towns, up the legendary Heartbreak Hill and ends on Boylston Street in Boston.