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Conquering Boston  

By Jewel Bailey and Jayne Rop-Weller

Running the Boston Marathon is a big deal. It is a significant accomplishment for elite and non-elite runners. Our very own Jayne Rop-Weller ran this tortuous race of 42.2 kilometres, which would be the equivalent of running from Apple Creek SDA Church to just west of Oshawa, non-stop. Jayne used grit, perseverance and a steely determination to finish the race which had to be completed within six hours. The time she docked was 4h:40m:12s. To qualify to run this oldest marathon in the world, one must complete a certified marathon course within a specific timeframe, known as the qualification window. We catch up with Jayne in this Q&A feature to discuss her experience with conquering this enormous feat.

Question: How long have you been running as a hobby and why did you start?

Answer: Since college days. I initially started running to relieve stress and clear my head while I worked on my masters degree. Now it has just become part of my life.

Question: What inspired you to take on the Boston Marathon?

Answer: My Boston Marathon was not planned. I was invited to join a group of runners at the Running Room in 2016 by a colleague at work. I joined and started to train for the Toronto Waterfront Half-marathon. Once I ran that race, I got hooked and ran four other half-marathons in subsequent years. In December 2019, I signed up for the P’tit du Nord half-marathon (in St. Jerome, QC) scheduled for Oct 2020. Then Covid hit and the race was postponed to 2021 and then to 2022. When I signed up for this race, it was scheduled to be run on a Sunday (as a rule, I don’t run any races on Sabbath). In the spring of 2022 I learnt that the half-marathon had been switched to Saturday, Oct 1, 2022 which meant I would not be able to run the race. So I called the organizers and they said there would be no refund. Since the full marathon was scheduled for Sunday, Oct 2, 2022, I asked if I could register for that race instead of the half-marathon, and they said no. After going back and forth with them, arguing that for religious reasons I could not run on Saturday, they agreed to break with protocol and allowed me to register for the full marathon even though it was sold out. So I ran that marathon (my first) and qualified for the Boston Marathon. Nobody qualifies for Boston and does not seize the opportunity to run it – I was no exception.

Question: How did you prepare for it?

Answer: Training for a marathon is not easy. I started training at the end of December 2023, running four days a week on a regular basis, snow, ice, rain – it did not matter. If it was a day to get out there, I was out there. I progressively ran long runs of up to 35 km on Sundays and interval training, hill training, down hill training and speed work during the week. At the peak of my training – I was running 75 kms a week.

Question: At which point during the race you found it most challenging and what caused you to persevere?

Answer: The hardest part was when my lower back started to hurt badly at around the 20km mark. I was about to give up. But then I remembered all the preparations that I had gone through to get there, and I resolved to claim God’s promise found in Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” With this verse in my mind, I knew I would be ok; that Christ would carry me to the finish line. And He did.

Question: How does it feel to accomplish this feat; what were your feelings when you received the medal?

Answer: I cannot explain how I felt – all I know is that when I saw Boylston Street (this is the street where the race ends), I started to cry. It was an amazing feeling.

Question: What was the overall experience like, being a participant?

Answer: Running the Boston Marathon was an incredible experience, the atmosphere was upbeat, there were spectators on both sides of the street as we ran through the different towns, cheering and encouraging the runners along the 42.2 kms of the race.

Question: Did you make any spiritual application with the race?

Answer: I came to understand what Paul meant by the verse found in 1 Corinthians 9:25, “Every man that strived for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” I trained hard and made sure I was well nourished and well rested throughout my training. When it got difficult during the race, my training served me well; I was ready both physically and mentally to endure to the very end. Now – I did all these to obtain an earthly reward. How should I then be preparing for my incorruptible crown? Ought I not to do all I can and more to make sure that I attain this crown? As Christians, we are promised an imperishable and everlasting reward, and I especially love the fact that we are not competing against each other – all Christ asks us to do is “endure to the end”, at your own pace!

Question: What are your future marathon goals?

Answer: I would like to complete the Abbott World Marathon Majors made up of Boston, New York, Chicago, Berlin, London and Tokyo. One down – five to go.

Question: How can someone start running?

Answer: Running is one of the easiest sports to start, with numerous health benefits. All you really need is a pair of good running shoes and off you go. Start slow, such as running for a km and walking two, and before long you will be running 4kms and walking one. I also suggest running with a friend or join a run club in your neighbourhood; you will be surprised to find out there are many near you.  It is also a great way to witness. People ask me all the time about my faith because I don’t run on Saturdays. I believe I am sowing seeds that will one day bear fruit. Happy running everyone!