Professors Run at Boston Marathon
Many professors at Colby should be applauded for their stamina. Whether it's grading term papers with the same thesis for hours on end, sitting at a lab bench all day or waiting up until 3:00 a.m. to field a student's e-mail, we appreciate their unceasing effort. Last week on April 10, three professors showcased their stamina in a venue other than the classroom. Professor of history Paul Josephson, professor of chemistry Julie Millard and Professor of Computer Science Bruce Maxwell all traveled south to compete in the Boston Marathon. The trio agreed to share with the Echo their passion for long-distance running and their experience at the event.
Professor Millard's connection to the Boston Marathon runs deep through her family roots.
"I was inspired to run a marathon when I went to go see my older brother [Peter] run in Boston when I was a teenager. I thought, wouldn't it be cool to do this someday, never thinking that I could," Millard said. It was in graduate school when Millard conquered her first 26.2 miles, and she ran several more in the late 80s and 90s. After taking time off to establish her career and build a family Millard decided to return to competitive running on the anniversary of her great uncle's unexpected Boston Marathon victory 100 years before. On April 10, 1910 "Uncle Fred" Cameron came down from Nova Scotia and won the race against America's best amateurs.
"He went out fast and they said, who is this guy? He's going to die," Millard said. "But he never did, and no one could catch him."
Millard qualified for Boston by running the Sugarloaf marathon in 4:00:39 last May. She felt in great shape going into the Boston last week and she was confident that she could finish the tough course in under 4:10. Millard ran the entire race with her former roommate from her time in Seattle as a post-doc and was joined in the last several miles by her 16-year old daughter and 21-year old niece. The group crossed the finish line in a time of 4:05:03, and amazingly, "the last mile was the fastest mile of all," Millard said. Clearly Millard had a little family magic left over, and she was happy about her performance. "I upheld the family honor and recognized Uncle Fred's accomplishments," Millard said. "It's probably my last one, but maybe when I'm 50. Who knows?"
Of the three professors, Paul Josephson can be considered the marathon veteran or maybe "marathon junky." The man has finished 67, count em', 67 versions of the 26.2-mile run, and he is nowhere near finished with them. "As I got older I got slower, but I also got stronger. I could run forever. So why not?" Josephson said. His passion for running has endured since his childhood. Joesephson competed in road races throughout his high school and collegiate years.
"In the 90s I went to a Boston marathon. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty and the excitement of the event that I decided to start running [marathons]." The history buff has now run the last 10 Boston Marathons (12 in all), and he often runs six to seven marathons in one year. Josephson strained his achilles last summer but rested for six weeks and began re-training again this fall. "I overcame my injuries and felt I was in excellent shape for Boston. Unfortunately every race is an experience, and at mile 18 [in Boston] I started cramping in both calf muscles," Josephson explained. "I was 30 minutes off where I though I could finish, and I ran around a 4:10 and change." Even though he was battling through pain, Josephson could still recognize the fun aspects of the event. "Wellesley University is the halfway point and is really fun. The fans hold up signs that say "kiss me." I was in bad trouble by then, so I thought I might as well stop and do that." Ultimately Josephson kept running that day and keeps running because he wouldn't be the same without it. "There are a number of benefits for both mental and physical health," he said. "Emotionally, it clears the head. It makes you more stable and centered. Some people need therapy, and if I didn't run I probably would too." Keep looking for Professor Josephson in marathon finishes. He is not done yet. "I'll maybe do six a year for the next couple years, and then maybe, I'll do something else."
Professor Bruce Maxwell ran his first marathon in 2002 for one reason. "My sister ran the Marine-Core marathon in Washington DC in 2001 and if my sister has done something, I have to as well," Maxwell said. Eventually the sibling rivalry motive for running faded, and Maxwell's genuine love for the sport came to the forefront. He ran the Marine-Core in '02, '04 and '06, and after moving up to Waterville, ME in '07, the he began training with the aforementioned Colby contingency. "I started running with Paul and Julie. It was the first time that I had trained with someone else, and it's been great," Maxwell said. There are several professors besides just Millard, Maxwell and Josephson who train together. "We have people with different needs and different speeds in terms of their training, but everyone fits. When it's 20 degrees out and you have to do a 15-mile run, I don't know if I could do it without them." Maxwell has asserted himself as the fastest professor, and for a man who never ran competitively before his "02 marathon, this is an impressive feat. At the Boston marathon, Maxwell's legs were threatening to cramp up in the second half, but he still reached his goal of impressively running under a 3:20. "The Boston course isn't a race for personal bests, but I was glad with what I did and I feel it was a good training run for a possible PR at Sugarloaf this May," Maxwell said.
Colby needs to recognize the accomplishments of professor's Millard, Josephson and Maxwell. We admire the amount of time and concentration they put into academia. They should garner equal praise for what they can accomplish outside the walls of Colby.