Newton runners teamed up with charity groups and raised money for various organizations in this year’s Boston Marathon — held in person on Oct. 11 for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Allegra Klein, who currently lives in Vermont, returned to Boston to run in support of Dreamfar High School Marathon, a training program headquartered in Newton.
“They work with a bunch of schools in the Greater Boston area, and get kids or students into running and doing long-distance events,” Klein said.
Klein attended Newton North High School and ran with Dreamfar for the Providence Marathon. She said this was her first time running the Boston Marathon.
In an interview before the marathon, Klein said she was excited to support Dreamfar because they made “a lasting impression” in her life.
“I think they do that for a lot of high schoolers, so I’m just really excited to have the opportunity to have raised money for them and run for them,” she said.
David Spector, a Newtonville resident and a bank managing director in Boston, ran the marathon with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a leading center of cancer research and treatment and one of the 41 charities associated with the Boston Marathon this year.
Spector, who said he fundraised individually for the institute, has run almost his entire life. He said his goal has always been to run the marathon, so when he was accepted to the Dana-Farber team last spring, he started training immediately.
“It’s one of the greatest sporting events in the world,” Spector said. “The opportunity to actually participate in an event that I’ve personally loved for so long, from start to finish, is really exciting.”
His favorite place is along the Charles River — “one of the best places in the country to run.”
Spector said he fortunately has a treadmill at home and used it for running during the pandemic, including some virtual half marathons.
“In the beginning of the pandemic, we were wearing masks outdoors all the time. I realized quickly that I could not stand and almost physically couldn’t deal with wearing a mask while running,” Spector said. “I’m looking forward to crossing that finish line in Back Bay.”
Jill Lemberg, Newton Corner resident and a preschool teacher in Newtonville, also ran the marathon with the Dana-Farber team. She said it was exactly what she “needed to get back into a rhythm.”
“I actually didn’t do anything during the pandemic,” Lemberg said. “I have three little girls, so I feel like I didn’t have that outlet to really go out and run.”
Lemberg has been running for nearly 15 years and said she was especially excited to be part of the Dana-Farber team and run in Newton — “home field,” as she calls it.
“They are an instant family and support system,” Lemberg said. “They come out to cheer for you and support you at the water stops and through social media messages. It’s incredible.”
Dan Foley, a West Newton resident who works in marketing, ran the marathon to fundraise for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people in need in Newton and surrounding communities.
“As you can imagine with the last year during the pandemic, we have seen a tremendous increase in requests for assistance,” Foley said. “So this is a big fundraiser for the society to be able to help our neighbors in need.”
Foley said he has run the Boston Marathon three times before this year and would have run the marathon in person last year if it had not been for the pandemic.
“We were really close to being fully trained for the marathon,” Foley said. “It was disappointing, but it was the right call.”
However, Foley was able to run in last year’s virtual marathon, when runners completed their 26.2 miles anytime during the race window and submitted their time through an app.
“There were a ton of people running along the course,” Foley said. “So it was still a somewhat fun atmosphere, but not nearly like a regular marathon of course.”
There was also a virtual option this year for those who could not attend. Over 27,500 virtual runners represented all 50 states, as well as over 100 countries.
Foley said he was going to follow a marathon training plan from Heartbreak Hill, a running company based in Newton. He said he was excited to run this year because a few major marathons — Boston, New York, Berlin — are happening for the first time since the pandemic.
As one of the major towns along the marathon route, Foley said, it brings the community together.
“It’s really one of the best days of the year in Newton,” Foley said. “We really missed it last year, so there’s a lot of excitement both as a runner and as a Newtonite to have the marathon back.”
Marcela Norton, an employee relations officer for Boston College Dining Services, ran the Boston Marathon from 2003 to 2012, but the 2021 marathon was her first one in nine years.
Norton said the marathon is what the community needed after a hard year. She compared the pandemic to the 20th mile of the course.
“It’s a matter of going over this hill, this Heartbreak Hill,” Norton said.
Isabelle Durso and Chika Okoye can be reached at email@example.com.