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MVS Boston Marathon Stories

Stephanie Guyotte | Published on 4/22/2023


We asked MVSers to share their 2023 Marathon experiences and reflections.  Here are their stories:

Maura Szendey

The 2023 Boston marathon was my 5th.

I was fortunate to be placed in Wave 4 Corral 1 - and since Merrimack Valley Striders was working the start as Human Chain, it was pretty easy to get to the very front of the Corral.  First time I've ever seen the starting line that close in a race - and it was a great kick off with lots of photos with my friends.

It was a great day - there's something really special about the vibe of Boston during marathon weekend and the race itself will always be special and a privilege to run. While I didn't have my strongest time, I was happy with my effort and look forward to running it again next year.


Kali Otis

My name is Kali Otis and I am a member of the Merrimack Valley Striders who ran Boston yesterday. Yesterday's race was very special to me because it was my first time running as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Going into this race, I realized I had actually been training for yesterday for years, gradually chipping away at my marathon time to be fast enough to qualify. I eventually took off over an hour of my initial marathon time to qualify last April for this year's Boston. It took years of hard work and training, but I did it! I knew I wanted to use yesterday's race as a victory lap to celebrate my achievements and have an absolute blast out there. I knew early on it wouldn't be my fastest day, but I gave high 5s to as many spectators as I could, thanked all the volunteers, and hugged my family so tight as I found them on the course. While my time was slower than I hoped (3:25), I qualified yesterday for next year's race, and had an amazing time. I am also a teacher in Andover, so my students love getting in on the marathon fun!


George Woodward

My 8th Boston (and 19th Marathon) with a goal to have fun. And I sure did. Rain on the way to the start made for a few wet miles. Then much better until Half Marathon when it rained again. Saw family and friends at mile 18 and it was fantastic. And then a series of friends all through the Newton Hills. Marathons are hard and so the last few miles took real effort. The trip from Kenmore Square to the finish is amazing. The crowd is huge and they scream the whole time. I was 1,000 meters from the finish in 2013 when the bombs went off. That has changed me, forever. So, the run-down Boylston, with my hand over my heart at both memorials was extra special. Just a fantastic day, for a 68-year-old runner who loves the sport.



Mikaela Reynolds Blanchette 

Today was my sixth marathon and first Boston. It was an incredible experience. I enjoyed everything from the marathon pup support in honor of Spencer and Penny to the Wellesley scream tunnel, from the incredible crowds at Heartbreak Hill to the roaring support along that final stretch of Boylston. It was all incredible.

And I am so grateful to the Merrimack Valley Striders who provided me with my bib, gifting me the opportunity to experience my first-ever Boston Marathon, the marathon that made me fall in love with the sport. This marked my first marathon back since a brain decompression surgery in November 2021. (I wasn’t even allowed to run last year at this time.) I couldn’t ask for a better race to return to marathoning with than Boston.

I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to run with a few of my teammates: Louise Cummings, Bhavisha Patel, and Makarand Joshi. The four of us set out together at the start and crossed the finish line holding hands. We enjoyed every minute of this race, just taking it all in. What an incredible experience.

Thank you to MVS, my pod squad who trained with me for the last few months, my coaches, my run buddy Yaira Nunez, our friends and family who supported us along the course, all spectators and volunteers, and the trio that accompanied me for every mile of Boston today.


Bhavisha Patel
Make your journey beautiful and keep spread love while achieving your goals and Visions. Running for me is a meditation and keeps me grounded.

I joined MVS in 2018 and have run 7 marathons including Boston 2023 . I’m about to run my 8th in London 2023 in 5 days. (That’s two world majors back-to-back!)

MVS has always supported and inspired me throughout my running journey. I am so thankful to MVS for the bib to run Boston 2023 and making my dream come true to run Boston since 2007.

Makarand Joshi

This is my seventh Marathon and fourth among the Majors. Boston has always been a DREAM. Unlike other majors I’ve done, the plan on this amazing course was to enjoy and take it all in! My MVS peers in this group made it so much fun and a breeze to run the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. Great memories made along the way!


Louise Cummings

My son Andrew Cummings, 31, ran 3:38 with his support runner, Eric Peloquin. Eric was Andy’s Special Olympics coach 15 years ago and they ran Andy’s first marathon in 2015. This was their second marathon together. We so appreciate support runners who make these dreams possible for people with disabilities. Andy’s autism has not stopped him from running 6 Boston Marathons out of 13 total marathons.


Lam Tien

It was incredible day, this was my 3rd consecutive Boston but this was by far the best marathon I’ve ever ran. My body held up well for most of the day and ending up PRing the course. I received my bib from MVS and I would love to thank them for giving me this opportunity to run this and representing MVS during the marathon was truly an honor.

Despite the weather not being the best, the crowds showed up in full force and showcased our city to the world. Congratulations to all my fellow MVS members who ran this is was a pleasure to be out with all of you.

Diarmuid Cahill 

“My journey to the 127 th Boston Marathon started with an unexpected back injury the previous year, followed by several rounds of associated medical care. I was assured that there was nothing structurally wrong; it was all soft tissue-related and they would have me ready. As I experienced setback after setback, my expectations went from finishing under 5 hours, to under 6 hours, to having a backup plan of getting home if I didn’t make the bus back with my MVS teammates.

The day finally arrived, the gun went off, and I soon shifted into the euphoric runners’ zone and started to glide almost effortlessly alongside loud and enthusiastic spectators. Disaster interrupted at or a little before mile 10. I now had two separate energy draws: my bad back, and the marathon itself.

My friends and teammates started to catch up to me and pass me by, giving me words of encouragement; one very kindly and generously offering to stay with me. I responded, ‘Thank you so much, no need, I’ll get it done.’ Doing the math, my pace kept decreasing. I redid the math over and over again from the possibility that there was a chance of making it in under 6 hours until there wasn’t.

The course cleared to the point where it felt like it’s just you and the spectators, which got wonderfully personal and hilarious at times; I am blessed with a good sense of humor. I wished the spectators’ energy was contagious. I was in a different kind of runners’ zone: the landmarks, hills, and miles start to gradually slip by, the screaming wall of Wellesley students followed by Newton-Wellesley Hospital, which gave me my life back in 2014 after a cancer diagnosis. A long sloping hill appeared; as I crested the top of the hill, a large banner came into view, and a lone photographer said, ‘Congrats!’ Apparently, I had just crested Heartbreak Hill. I smiled and thought to myself, ‘What a beautiful course.’ I soldiered on. As Mile marker 25 appeared, I was physically spent, yet mentally alert, trying to figure a way of having enough left of anything to push once I turned left on Boylston. Then, my cellphone started to ring. It was my support partner, panicked; she’d lost track of me in the tracking app and thought the worst. I tried to increase my pace. Right on Hereford, the shouts and screams increased in intensity. Finally, left on Boylston and then across the finish line to be greeted by my support partner and assurance of a safe journey home. My heart swelled. How wonderfully extraordinary, the journey I’d just completed was like none other in my life. Thank you so much to the MVS Boston Marathon Committee for choosing to provide me with the opportunity to represent the club in Boston this year. You have given me an experience I will never forget.”

Andrew Szendey 

This was my 3rd marathon and first Boston.  I am so appreciative of MVS for selecting me for a club bib in helping me realize a pipe dream of an 18 year old cross country runner from Northampton Ma who so excited in watching Boston Billy Rodgers win marathons while stopping at water stations.  I still have not mastered the ability to drink from a cup while running and mostly stop.  I did a personal best by 12 minutes by running  perfect even splits.  I really worked on carbo loading for 3 days before and took plenty of fuel on the course which made a huge difference of body supporting me until legs said enough running hard around mile 23.   On a humorous note, in talking about porta parties with fellow MVS bus mates just before the race, I mentioned that I never use them on the course.  Well, I did not last but 1.5 miles, when I spotted a short porta party line, and decided that I was not going to run for another 25 miles without having to stop.



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