Mother inspires first Marathon run

Jonathan Korhonen ran his first Boston Marathon with his shirt proclaiming him to be “Strong Like Mom.”
Jonathan Korhonen ran his first Boston Marathon with his shirt proclaiming him to be “Strong Like Mom.”

Annette Korhonen has always been her son Jonathan’s biggest fan.

She watched as he dominated track foes in his four years at Gardner High.

She was there in 2006 when Korhonen, then a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, set the school record in the indoor mile (4:04.25).


She never missed a race.

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But when Korhonen, now 31 and residing in Somerville, toed the starting line Monday for his first Boston Marathon — which he completed in 2:34:23 — he knew his mom would not be cheering from anywhere along the 26.2-mile course.

Initially inspired to compete by last April’s bombings, Korhonen started training almost immediately and signed up for last September’s Erie (Pa.) Marathon, which he finished in 2:41:23 to qualify for Boston.

On Aug. 14, 2013, however, he found greater inspiration.

“The whole Marathon for me took on a new meaning that day,” said Korhonen, who works in the admissions office at Boston University. “My mom suffered a stroke and a traumatic brain injury. She’s still in a rehab nursing facility. She’s likely to be disabled for the rest of her life and maybe in a nursing facility too.”


Annette Korhonen has undergone four brain surgeries, fought off a cranial meningitis infection, and endured various minor procedures and issues.

Insurance has covered everything thus far, but Korhonen and his father, Peter, understand her recovery will require long-term care with expensive costs that insurance will not cover.

So Korhonen enlisted the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts and pledged to raise $50,000. He reached $54,129 just a few hours after the Marathon: 50 percent will go to assist his mother and the remaining amount to the Brain Injury Association.

“It’s a blessing to be given the opportunity to run,” Korhonen said after the race. “It was such a neat, positive energy from everyone. I’ve been very emotional for seven months with everything with my mom . . . To be part of this city and part of an event with such positive energy, especially after what happened last year, was really and truly an honor. “

Enthusiasm overwhelming

Entering Monday’s marathon, Westford’s Jill Trotter, a 42-year-old mother of three who is a part-time accountant, admitted experiencing mixed emotions. She was initially angered by last April’s events, but more recently she felt fortunate to live somewhere where her freedom is protected so she can run marathons.


After finishing the course in 3:10:28, what struck the 10-time Boston Marathoner, including the last four, was the patrons’ enthusiasm.

‘To be part of this city and part of an event with such positive energy . . . was really and truly an honor.’

“This is the most support I’ve seen out on the course in the times I’ve run,” she said. “And it was the loudest I’ve heard it. Coming into Kenmore Square was just phenomenal.”

Missed by a minute

Ruben Sanca wanted to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

But the 27-year-old Cape Verdean, who lives in Lowell and completed the course in 2:19.05, good for 22d place among men, missed the necessary time by a minute.

Still, Sanca was happy with his performance, especially after balancing his business manager responsibilities at University of Massachusetts Lowell, training for just 10 weeks, and running only his second marathon since having a benign tumor removed from his right knee last May.

“I lived in Boston and went to Boston public schools,” said the first-time participant. “I remember seeing the Marathon on TV. It was great to be a part of it and having everyone cheering for me as the local guy.”

Personal record set

Evelyn Caron, a 54-year-old mother of four who works part time as a personal trainer and special needs assistant at Andover High, was determined to be part of this year’s field.

“I qualified [at the] Vermont City [Marathon] (3:11:54) last May,” said the Andover resident. “After what happened in Boston, I just decided I had to be there this year. I wanted to support Boston, I wanted to keep us strong and I wanted to prove we were number one.”

In just her second marathon, Caron bettered her Vermont time with a 3:09:58 run.

On to the finish line

Hilary Anderson, a 26-year-old administrative professional from Stoneham who was given her number by her cousin, Jennifer Regan, and her cousin’s husband, bombing survivor Marc Fucarile, completed the course in 4:29:55.

“I turned the corner onto Boylston,” she said. “Jen, Marc, and a bunch of Marc’s family were in front of the Hynes Convention Center. I saw them, ran over and gave Jen a hug first and then Marc. Then I just kept going to the finish.”

Running through tears

George Brooks, a 32-year-old medical device sales representative, fought off tears as he ran down Boylston to finish in 4:33:22. The Lynnfield resident was inspired by his mother-in-law, who died last November, and his son, who was born 10 weeks premature.

“I didn’t expect to cry like I did,” he said. “I wrote my mother-in-law’s name on one arm and my son’s on the other. I just kept looking at them and then looking up.”

Paul Lazdowski can be reached at