Weather was on the minds of many Monday — especially the local runners who braved the elements, put on their sneakers and running clothes, and sloshed 26 miles and 385 yards in the 122nd Boston Marathon.
Despite the wretched conditions on the course from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay, some runners fared very well. Peabody’s Dan Vassallo finished 10th overall among the men, and Lynn’s Karen DiLisio ran her fastest time ever.
But some didn’t have quite as successful a run. Maria Cameron of Lynn called the driving rain and biting cold “historically horrific.”
St. John’s Prep basketball coach John Dullea felt the rain soak right through the poncho he’d worn — ostensibly to protect himself from the elements — and he ended up getting cramps and sore feet.
Nahant’s Ellen Goldberg finished 40 minutes behind her fastest Boston time ever, and she, too, struggled with the rain.
Vassallo, 32, running in his second Boston Marathon, finished in 2:27.50, behind Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi, who won in 2:15.58, and five other Americans finished in the Top 10.
The 2003 Wilmington High and 2007 Colby College graduate (“where I majored in track and minored in school”), stuck to his game plan and kept his focus on what was in front of him, methodically picking off one runner after another on the route.
“I had no idea I was 10th until I crossed the finish line,” he said. “There was a lot of attrition out there and I knew I was passing people as the race went on. I knew that people were probably dropping out in front of me because the conditions were so tough, so I thought it was possible to finish higher than I did 10 years ago (24th in 2008). But to finish where I did was a surprise to me.”
Before the race, Vassallo said his least favorite part was Cleveland Circle. He said he dreaded seeing the Boston skyline and realizing that there were still four more miles to go to the finish line. But Monday, that was the least of his problems.
“Hey, I couldn’t see any buildings today, the visibility was so awful with rain pelting down, I had no idea where I was,” said Vassallo. “Today, it was just a matter of survival, so I didn’t see anything or anyone the entire race. I maybe saw two or three people that I recognized the entire course. I can’t even say I have any memories from along the race route, as it was really about survival with the rain and wind in my face. All I could do was just try to stay focused on the guys in front of me and try to pick off as many as I could.”
When asked if he planned to run Boston next year, Vassallo laughed.
“Right now I am hurting so badly that I don’t know if I can get off the couch tonight,” he said.
DiLisio, 51, finished at 4:16:36, well below her previous mark of 4:17:58, which she ran in 2003. “I’m a winter warrior,” DiLisio said.
She said she strives in the cold despite the rain coming down hard Monday, and that seeing the runners and volunteers are always a highlight for her. DiLisio said her family kept her going.
This was DiLisio’s eighth Boston, and her goal is to run two more to finish with 10.
She celebrated at Rolly’s in Wyoma Square — her usual go-to food establishment — where she ordered a hamburger and a Corona.
“I want to go back to my hometown,” she said.
Cameron finished in 5:22.
Her original goal was to finish under five hours, but the weather conditions made her re-evaluate her time.
“I had to smile and get through it,” she said.
The weather was a major obstacle, she said, but it reminded her of why she is running for FamilyAid Boston.
“It solidifies the cause I’m running for,” Cameron said.
Cameron made sure she was not underdressed, wearing a raincoat, hat, medical gloves, and regular running gloves in the effort to stay warm.
Dullea, running in his first race, came in at 5:07, well above the goal he set for himself (4:30). But, he said, he put up a tough fight against the weather.
“It was a great experience, besides the weather,” Dullea said. The cramps and sore calves started in at miles 20 and 21.
His family and friends were there to cheer him on, and he doesn’t know if he could have made it without the volunteers.
Dullea leaves today for a vacation in Florida, where the weather will undoubtedly be considerably better than it was Monday.
Goldberg was running in her ninth straight Boston, and it was by far the worst running conditions she has experienced.
“The conditions were abysmal today,” she said, adding that she finally got use out of her emergency poncho.
She finished in 5:21 (she ran her 4:41 in 2010). Goldberg’s two children Benjamin, 15, and Sarah, 11, were cheering her on at mile 24.5, and the spectators got her through it.
“I’m so grateful for them being there every year,” Goldberg said. After 18 long weeks of training, Goldberg went to The Tides Nahant to celebrate with her family.