Boston Marathon

Ty Velde | Marathon Training

All runners should feel like champions

Hopkinton, MA - 4-18-16 - First wave start the Boston Marathon. Globe staff photo / Bill Greene
Bill Greene/Globe Staff
Runners in the first wave prepare to begin the 2016 Boston Marathon.

Ty Velde is a 15-time Boston Marathon finisher and 19-time Boston Qualifier who writes about running and marathon training. This is part of an occasional series.

Every few years in Boston we have been lucky enough to celebrate a championship. We’ve been so fortunate in this respect that many have bestowed the name “Title Town.”

Yet every year on the third Monday in April we get a unique opportunity to celebrate that Boston truly is a city of champions because we are home to one of the world’s greatest sporting and community events, the Boston Marathon.

But what is a champion?

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To many, it’s representative of someone who competes, surpasses their rivals, and emerges victorious.

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That is only part of the definition.

A champion is also someone who supports or defends a cause. A champion is someone who is willing to test their limits to find out how great they can be. A champion is someone who realizes that goals are not often accomplished without purpose, passion, or pain. A champion does not back down from a challenge or a fight.

Monday’s marathon was not easy. The weather was warm and at many points the wind was not necessarily at our backs, yet we all pushed forward.

Yes, some were crowned winners (congratulations to Lemi Berhanu Hayle, Atsede Baysa, Marcel Hug, and Tatyana McFadden) but on Monday we all were champions.

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For many of us we pushed ourselves to our limits. We ran 26.2 miles. We ran in the heat. It was the final test after months of training, but we persevered and we finished. It was not easy, but at the same time you may have discovered parts within yourself that you did not know ever existed.

Monday was the fulfillment of a goal that was months, and for many of us years, in the making. We were there because of the purpose and passion that we applied to our efforts.

Then on race day, we were greeted with challenging conditions and a course that no matter what the weather brings is never forgiving. Despite these challenges and the pain we did not back down and made it from Hopkinton to Boston, and in that moment our goal was achieved.

For many of us, it was about more than just a race. It was about being a champion for a cause. It was about demonstrating that running a marathon is a way to bring awareness, support, and much needed funds to causes that impact our lives and communities.

For me, this was truly one of the most rewarding aspects of my marathon experience. I’ve learned that a marathon is more about than a time or mileage, but a way to give of myself and champion a cause that is near and dear to both me and my family.

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For those who lined the course and manned the aid stations, you are the champions of each runner’s efforts and goals. Your support and energy truly makes Boston a unique and almost magical experience. You are the true champions of our cause in our efforts to push to the finish line and it is something we will never ever forget and for which we are incredibly grateful.

Yes, in looking back at Monday’s marathon, it’s important to take some time for yourself to celebrate and revel in what is truly an amazing accomplishment. But beyond what we each accomplished as individuals, it’s important to also recognize that we collectively showed the world what it means on many levels to be champion.

Congratulations to all runners and thank you so much for everyone who volunteered to make this an incredible race and experience.

Follow Ty Velde on Twitter at @TyVelde.