Friday, March 14, 2014

2001 alumna runs Boston Marathon for charity

The day after a bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon, Rachel Mathewson ’01 went running.

So did many Boston residents. For Mathewson, it was a way of trying to respond with hope and solidarity after a tragic attack that killed three people and injured more than 200.

“As a mother, and as a runner, and as someone who lives here, I know we have to move forward,” she said, recalling that day. “That’s the way we’ll promote healing.”

This year, Mathewson will run the Boston Marathon on behalf of a charity that honors the youngest person who died from the bombing last year—8-year-old Martin Richard. Mathewson was one of 72 people chosen to receive one of the charity’s spots in the race.

In the aftermath of the bombing, a photo of Richard and a sign he had made stating “No more hurting people—Peace” was widely circulated. In January, his family announced the formation of the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation and Team MR8, a Boston Marathon team that would raise money that the foundation could use to support education, athletics, and community programs.

Mathewson, who has run one marathon before, decided to complete the 11-page application. “I never thought I would be picked,” she said. But at the end of January she learned that she had been selected for the team. “It is an extraordinary privilege to be running this Boston Marathon and especially for Martin, adding my voice to his message of peace,” she said.

Since then, Mathewson has stepped up her running in order to be ready for the 26-mile race. Her running schedule includes short runs during the week and longer runs on weekends with other Boston-area members of Team MR8.

“This is a relatively short time frame to be training for a marathon,” she said. “There is the physical part of it, but I think the mental part of it is more challenging. It requires a lot of dedication and persistence. It’s more a state of mind. The miles will come. You just keep putting one foot in front of another.”

By joining Team MR8, Mathewson committed to raise at least $7,500 for the foundation. The amount seemed daunting at first, but she believes it will help establish a strong beginning for the charity. Mathewson thinks of her fundraising efforts much like she approaches running—one step at a time. Currently, she is more than halfway to her goal, according to her fundraising page.

Mathewson, who majored in psychology at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, has been inspired by the way her community responded to the bombing last year. Victims have shown courage and determination in overcoming their injuries, the community has joined together to support their recovery, and the Richard family turned their sorrow into an opportunity to do good.

“Everyone is in action. Everyone is moving forward,” she said. “This year’s marathon is going to be a testament to the fact that you can’t take this away from us.”