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‘Eli would have wanted me to be there’: Cheri Blauwet returned to the Marathon finish line weeks after her husband died

The physician and Paralympian is mourning her husband Eli Wolff, a leading advocate for athletes with disabilities. But she knew the importance of showing up to the race.

Marshall David Ortiz at the Boston Marathon with Dr. Cheri Blauwet (left) and Michael O'Leary (right), as he placed the Marathon trophy on the finish line.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The 127th Boston Marathon was especially meaningful for both runners and spectators this year, as people came together to recognize and reflect on the passage of 10 years since one of the city’s darkest days.

For Dr. Cheri Blauwet, Monday’s race followed a recent personal tragedy.

Just two weeks earlier, the physician and decorated Paralympian lost her husband, Eli Wolff, a well-known advocate for athletes with disabilities. He was just 45 when he died of cardiac arrest on April 4, and his untimely passing was met with grief and shock by those who admired his work promoting inclusivity in sports.


Eli Wolff with his wife, Dr. Cheri Blauwet, and their children, Spencer and Stella, in October 2022. KCK PHOTOGRAPHY

Blauwet, a two-time Boston Marathon winner and vice chair of the Board of Governors for the Boston Athletic Association, weighed whether to attend the race without Wolff by her side.

But she decided it “was the right thing to do, and really important to me to be at the finish line.”

“The first thing that came to my mind was that Eli would have wanted me to be there,” she said.

So on Monday, Blauwet returned to the race route, where she joined former Red Sox slugger and 2023 Boston Marathon grand marshal David Ortiz as he placed the Marathon trophy at the finish line.

Ortiz was “incredibly gracious” in person and “frankly the perfect person for the job this year,” she said.

Blauwet was also thrilled she was there to see Susannah Scaroni overcome an equipment malfunction and finish first in the women’s wheelchair division — the same title Blauwet took home in 2004 and 2005.

“That was special, and very gratifying but emotional for me,” she said. “I know Susannah well and no one deserved it more. I’m just so happy for her and for Team USA.”

Dr. Cheri Blauwet posed for a photo beside Grand Marshall David Ortiz at the finish line.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Blauwet’s Marathon roots run deep. Over many years of involvement with the BAA, she said she has come to consider the athletes, officials, and volunteers who come together every spring as “family.”


She heard heartfelt words of sympathy for her loss throughout the day, but she was “able to sort of quickly move into the excitement of race day,” she said.

“That’s what’s so beautiful about race day. No matter what else is happening in your life, it is this unifying and incredibly exciting and positive experience,” Blauwet said.

Blauwet and her husband had been involved with the race long before their relationship began.

“It was something that we shared with each other,” she said. “Being there without him was certainly unique and challenging, but it still felt right to be there. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.”

Spencer Buell can be reached at spencer.buell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerBuell.