Marathon Saturday

Runners criss-cross Abington as part of virtual marathon

Abington’s streets became a marathon course this weekend for nearly a dozen runners taking part in the Boston Athletic Association’s virtual Boston Marathon.

COVID-19 forced the association to initially postpone the world famous race and then make it fully remote. Participants had between Sept. 5 and 14 to run a 26.2-mile course of their choosing. 

Members of the Colonial Road Runners start their marathon runs at dawn Saturday morning. (Photo by Rick Collins)

The Colonial Road Runners, which traditionally has a number of runners participating in the marathon, set up a local course that included a 20-mile loop through Abington, Rockland, and Weymouth, followed by a 6.2-mile loop through Abington.

Almost a dozen runners took off from a starting line located at the Woodsdale Elementary School – including Abington residents Stacey Cooper and Janet FitzGerald – just before dawn Saturday morning.

Unlike during the traditional Boston Marathon, which takes place on a closed course, local runners had to navigate busy intersections and active train crossings. 

Abington marathoner Stacey Cooper waiting for the commuter rail to pass before continuing her run Saturday. (courtesy photo)

“When we first started, it was easy to cross the roads that we had to, but as it got later and more drivers were on the road it slowed you down just a bit,” said Cooper, who finished in 4:04.04.

Cooper, who has run the marathon before, said running up Lincoln Street on mile 25 felt like Abington’s version of Heartbreak Hill, the notorious half-mile incline on the Boston Marathon course.  

Sarah Gordinier, who grew up in Abington, ran a pair of 13.1 loops that included some of her favorite places in Abington, Whitman, and Rockland. 

“I made the route based on my fondest memories of living on the South Shore. I wanted to pass all the places I spent most of my time,” she said. “The first lap was a breeze, full of adrenaline. The second lap was more challenging, especially the hill by Strawberry Valley Golf Course. My sister surprised me on my second lap with “secret runners” so my friends would jump in for a mile or two which really helped keep me going.”

Sarah Gordinier, an Abington native, celebrates crossing the finish line at the Lake Street entrance of Memorial Bridge. (courtesy photo)

To earn her bib number, Gordinier raised $8,000 on behalf of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She was inspired by personal relationships with three people she’s known who fought hard against cancer.  

“I wouldn’t have made it through the race without a cause,” said Gordinier, who finished by the Lake Street entrance to Memorial Bridge with a time of 5:25. “Ava was a 7-year-old girl who passed away from brain cancer. I met her at a very low point in my life; she helped saved my life. Maegan was 21; she was one of my great friends from high school. She passed away from HLH. She was a once-in-a-life-time friend. Elaine is one of my best friends who beat thyroid cancer last year. I pushed hard for these three girls, they impacted my life more than I can put into words. They fought, they battled, they never gave up. This entire journey was for them.” 

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