When runners from all over North America and around the world gather in the Massachusetts town of Hopkinton on the morning of April 16 for the start of the Boston Marathon, Yarmouth County resident Angie Saulnier will be among them, running the historic event for the first time.
The 50-year-old qualified for Boston last year in Kentucky. Saulnier had connected with someone from there through a runners’ group on Facebook and had been invited to visit and do a marathon. Her time was well below the four-hour barrier she needed to crack in order to qualify for Boston.
Unlike most races, where it’s just a matter of filling out a form and paying an entry fee, Boston – because it’s so popular and so many people want to run it – has qualifying standards. How fast you need to run to qualify depends on your age and gender, but sometimes even meeting the entry requirement isn’t enough to get you in.
Saulnier experienced that a few years ago after qualifying for Boston by just 30 seconds at a race on Prince Edward Island. Given the volume of entries they get and because they can only accommodate so many people, Boston organizers give priority to the fastest qualifiers in each category. Qualifying by a half-minute wasn’t enough for Saulnier to get a Boston berth.
This time, though, she made it, securing a spot on the start line of the world’s most famous running event, and she said she’s looking forward to the experience.
Preparing for Boston can be a challenge because it requires winter training, but Saulnier says she likes winter running anyway.
Speaking of a recent trip she took to Texas, she said it was nice to be able to run in shorts for a change and she admits it was hard coming home and facing the cold again, “but I do still prefer – even with the snow – I prefer cold-weather training to hot-weather training.”
And what might the weather be like on marathon day? Simply put, Boston can dish out just about anything on the third Monday in April, from wintry conditions to summer-like heat.
“It’s kind of like the Valley Harvest,” Saulnier said, referring to the Wolfville running event held in October. “I’ve run it when it’s four degrees and I’ve run it when it’s 24 degrees.”
Saulnier has run six marathons and “20-odd half marathons” and is looking to do a 50-km ultra-distance event this fall. (That’s about eight km, or five miles, longer than a marathon.)
She is self-coached and lately she’s been helping her niece get ready for her first marathon, which will be in Halifax in May.
Saulnier began running about 17 years ago after a friend suggested she might like it. For a long time, she said she never would do a marathon, but here she is, ready for Boston, and it’s pretty exciting, although she says – as most runners would – that what’s really satisfying, ultimately, is the preparation.
“I read somewhere a quote and I really like it,” Saulnier said. “It was something about it’s not about the races. It’s about the training ... because you put the hours and the hours in when you’re training and that’s where your discipline comes in. The race at the end is just a bonus.”