Virtually there

Local women running Boston Marathon at home

Submitted Photo Judy Porpiglia of Sinclairville, left, and Brooke Adams of East Aurora, formerly of Randolph, are pictured.

If you do an online search for “Boston Marathon,” the first word that pops up is predictable in our COVID-19 world.

“Canceled,” Google declares.

But even though qualified runners are unable to toe the start line in Hopkinton, Massachusetts this year, that doesn’t mean that thousands won’t be able to get their 26.2-mile experience in anyways. According to the Boston Athletic Association, all participants who were originally registered for the April 20 event have been given the opportunity to participate in a virtual alternative this week.

Barb Crowley of Jamestown; Brooke Adams of East Aurora, formerly of Randolph; and Judy Porpiglia of Sinclairville are among that group. Crowley was scheduled to begin her virtual marathon run at 5 a.m. today, while Adams and Porpiglia will do so on Saturday morning.

“I’m just focusing on 26.2 at a reasonable pace,” said Crowley, 63. “Based on my last 20-mile (training run), I’m thinking around (4 hours, 15 minutes).”

Submitted Photo Barb Crowley of Jamestown was scheduled to begin her virtual Boston Marathon this morning.

So when she took off this morning before dawn, the UPMC Chautauqua project coordinator of construction felt no pressure to achieve her personal best time, because she’s already qualified for Boston for the sixth time next year, provided it can be held.

“I worked hard for this one,” Crowley said. “After 2018, that was a monsoon and it was going to be my last one, but I said, ‘No, I can’t let that be my last Boston. I want to come back and, hopefully, run it on a good day.’ Last year, I ran the Erie Marathon and ran my second-fastest time (3:51), I was pretty excited to be able to train for the spring (Boston).”

Training for any race is enjoyable for Crowley, who ran her first marathon when she was 40 and has completed 16 more since.

“On a day-to-day basis, for me, after working all day, I love getting outside in the fresh air and clearing my head,” she said. “It’s a challenge. Every runner loves the challenge. Some people love racing and that’s why they run. I just love the day-to-day running and throwing in some races every year. That makes me happy.”

Crowley’s personal-best time was 3:47, which she turned in the VIA Marathon in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Today’s 26.2 miles will take her from the Celoron Marina, and down Jones & Gifford Avenue to Eighth Street in Jamestown. She’ll turn left onto Fluvanna Avenue and that will lead her, ultimately, into Bemus Point. She’ll make a right turn on to Lakeside Drive in the village and to the course’s halfway point. Then she’ll turn around and repeat the journey back to the Celoron Marina.

“During the summer, I”ve done my long runs at 5 a.m. before the sun comes up and it starts to heat up,” Crowley said. “I like running early in the morning. I have a little neon vest that lights up so I should be pretty safe and I can get it out of the way. I’m a morning person. It will work for me.”


Running has “worked” for Adams and Porpiglia, too.

In a big, big way.

The 31-year-old Adams, the principal at Colden Elementary School, is believed to be one of the youngest women to complete the Abbott World Major Marathons (Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo). Meanwhile, the 51-year-old Porpiglia, the director of operations for Howard Hanna Real Estate, needs only to finish the London Marathon to join her friend in that exclusive fraternity.

Yet for all their travels to marathons near and far, Boston is their favorite.

“From the moment you start, people are lining the route,” Porpiglia said. “The volunteers are fantastic, the expo is amazing, they make you feel very welcome and they’re excited to have you there.”

Added Adams: “I think it’s the pinnacle of all the marathons. You have to qualify, it’s Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts, there are crowds the entire way. It’s every runner’s dream weekend. You feel like a celebrity.”

In the absence of actually being in Boston this year, Porpiglia and Adams, who have run 28 marathons between them, are attempting to share the experience with their friends. On Saturday, they will be joined by nearly two dozen members of their “Chautauqua Run Club” for their virtual tour through portions of Chautauqua County. Not all of the group will run 26.2 miles, but the goal will be the same for all — to have fun.

“We went back and forth with different routes and we decided on a Cassadaga start,” Porpiglia said. “Our run group has a route we do for some of our Sunday runs, so we played off of that. We’ll be going around Cassadaga Lake and then out in the country and the hills. We have a ‘Heartbreak Hill,’ too. We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice for our friends to experience Boston.'”

To make sure that all bases are covered Porpiglia and Adams were going to be joined by their running friends on a Zoom call Thursday night.

And come 6:45 a.m. Saturday, the Chautauqua Run Club will pose for a group photo before taking off on another running adventure.

In the absence of being in Beantown, there truly is no place like home.


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