MARATHON MEN (AND WOMEN)
Cape Breton runners complete iconic Boston Marathon.
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).
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.
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.