When so many other runners in Monday’s Boston Marathon arrive at Heartbreak Hill, they’ll wonder if their bodies will be strong enough to respond to such a physical challenge.
When Summer Sanders gets there, she’ll already know the answer. She has pushed her body to its physical limit, dozens upon hundreds upon thousands of times. What’s one more?
Sanders was America’s most decorated swimmer at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, winning two gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. A four-time Olympic medalist at age 19, she hung up the suit not long thereafter and put on running shoes, initially as a social opportunity with college friends.
Now, some two decades later, she has qualified for Boston, running less than a year after undergoing a medical procedure for varicose veins and hoping to raise awareness for a condition (venous insufficiency) that affects some 30 million American men and women. Sanders won’t win Monday’s race — she’ll likely be roughly an hour behind — but that’s no longer the force driving her.
“That’s what I love about running — I feel like we all celebrate each other,” Sanders said in a recent telephone interview from her home in Salt Lake City, where she lives with her husband and two children. “Even if you’re racing somebody at the finish, it’s like you’re in it together.
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