MARATHON MEN (AND WOMEN)

Cape Breton run­ners com­plete iconic Boston Marathon.

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY T.J. COLELLO sports@cb­post.com On Twit­ter: @cb­post_s­ports

Kara MacKin­non’s first Boston Marathon couldn’t have been more chal­leng­ing.

A dif­fi­cult head wind, cold rain and near-freez­ing tem­per­a­tures chal­lenged all par­tic­i­pants at the 122nd edi­tion of the hal­lowed race. Even the Boston Red Sox game against the Bal­ti­more Orioles was post­poned due to the crummy weather, the first time a Pa­tri­ots’ Day game has been rained out since 1994.

But the 24-year-old from West­mount had no com­plaints.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence alone, de­spite the weather or any­thing like that, it was just so cool,” said MacKin­non, who works as an ac­coun­tant in Hal­i­fax. “The at­mos­phere and the prepa­ra­tion and ev­ery­thing, it’s un­like any other (race).

“The way that the race goes, you run through all these dif­fer­ent towns and ev­ery time you en­ter a new town or ev­ery time you turn a cor­ner, there’s all these peo­ple hol­ler­ing and scream­ing. It’s so in­spir­ing, you can’t help but be mo­ti­vated by the fans and want to do well be­cause of them. You don’t get that at any other race.”

MacKin­non qual­i­fied for the Boston Marathon at the Toronto Goodlife Fit­ness Marathon last May. It’s a race she ran with her fa­ther, John, who’s run at Boston six times and helped her train for this year’s event. She watched her fa­ther run the race back in 2011, and now it was her fa­ther’s turn to cheer her on, along with her mother, Brenda, and Kara’s boyfriend, Mitch Don­nelly.

MacKin­non fin­ished in a time of three hours, 42 min­utes and 48 sec­onds. Al­though she didn’t qual­ify for next year’s race, she hopes to run the Boston Marathon with her dad down the road.

“He is by far the best coach and in­spi­ra­tion from when I was young. He started run­ning when I was just a kid, so I grew up go­ing to races and watch­ing him qual­ify for Boston and go to Boston, it’s so hard not to be in­ter­ested in it,” she said.

Boston was only the sec­ond marathon MacKin­non has run, but she’s hardly an am­a­teur when it comes to com­pet­ing. She was a star de­fender for the Cape Breton Ca­pers women’s soccer team for four sea­sons from 2012-15 and was a mem­ber of two At­lantic Univer­sity Sport cham­pi­onship teams.

“I’m so com­pet­i­tive and I do re­ally well with an end goal,” she said. “I did a lot of run­ning train­ing for soccer and then af­ter soccer was over, it was like ‘OK, what’s next?’” she said. “It was just a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for me to go from soccer and other sports to run­ning.”

With the con­di­tions im­ped­ing the run­ners’ progress, Her­bie Sakalauskas said he had to change his goals when it came to his fin­ish time at the Boston Marathon.

With a goal of 2:55 in mind head­ing in, the 37-year-old from Syd­ney River was con­tent with his 3:05:46 on a dif­fi­cult day.

“The split time 13 miles in I was do­ing pretty good, but when I got to mile 16 where you start to in­cline at the hills, I knew it wasn’t go­ing to be that day,” said Sakalauskas, who com­pleted the 2015 Boston Marathon in 2:58:59. An in­jury ham­pered his run in 2016.

“My goal was just to keep run­ning and fo­cus on fin­ish­ing at a de­cent time. I’m pretty ex­cited with a 3:05 on a day like today. Most peo­ple prob­a­bly lost 10-15 min­utes off their time or more, so I was pretty happy with that.”

De­spite the in­clement con­di­tions, Sakalauskas was still im­pressed by the sup­port from the crowds along the 42-kilo­me­tre route.

“The peo­ple of Boston are amaz­ing. They all came out no mat­ter what, cheer­ing you on and I can’t get over it,” said Sakalauskas, who was also cheered on by his part­ner, Maire Neville. “Get­ting high fives, fist pumps — it was un­be­liev­able.”

Sakalauskas, who works as a video pro­duc­tion/mul­ti­me­dia spe­cial­ist for the Cen­tre for Teach­ing and Learn­ing at CBU, said al­though he qual­i­fied for next year’s Boston Marathon, he plans on do­ing a dif­fer­ent race.

Other Cape Breton run­ners who com­pleted the race in­clude An­drew Clarey of Mar­ga­ree Forks (3:31:48), Carol Dakai of Syd­ney (3:45:33), Donna Burns of Syd­ney (4:04:26) and Gary Ross of Syd­ney (4:42:32).

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/HER­BIE SAKALAUSKAS

A group of Cape Breton run­ners is shown af­ter com­plet­ing the 122nd edi­tion of the Boston Marathon on Mon­day. From left are Kara MacKin­non of West­mount, Donna Burns, Carol Dakai and Gary Ross, all of Syd­ney, and Her­bie Sakalauskas of Syd­ney River.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/HER­BIE SAKALAUSKAS

Her­bie Sakalauskas of Syd­ney River fin­ished in a time of 3:05:46 on a dif­fi­cult day that in­cluded cold tem­per­a­tures, rain and a strong head wind.

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