AM 15. April 2019

Boston Marathon


Dropping out of the Boston Marathon? No Way!
Due to impossible conditions at the cult marathon, 4,300 runnershave dropped out.Boston, a city known for Harvard, being the first US city with an underground
railroad, and naturally as the organizer of the cult marathon being held for the 116th time this year. Read how Croatia’s only entrant Berislav Sokač did in the mini feature that follows.nally and evenly spent whilst running; otherwise you will not make it to the finish line.
Although I have been tied to nature and an active lifestyle since an early age, I only started running two years ago when a friend convinced me to run the Jaska Half Marathon with him. While I ran that marathon, I
thought about the connection between the economic strength of certain countries and the number of people who partake in recreation daily. If you compete in your private life (in my case by running), you will be the same
in your professional life, which will subsequently render your company more competitive. By running, you implement discipline into your life, strengthen your willpower and through overcoming your weaknesses on a daily basis, progress on a personal, as well as professional level.

The Course of the Merciless Marathon
The organization of marathons in the United States always astounds me. For example, in only two hours, 25,000 people were transported by school buses to the starting line in Hopkinton, which is approximately 50 km from Boston. Despite good organization, the weather was something that could not be influenced. The temperature went wild and by 6 AM it was 19°C, and the rainfall during the night meant the smell of humidity was more than present.
The best, the marathon’s elite, started at 9:30 AM to a temperature of 25°C. Us remaining 15 thousand crowded under tents in the shade while the sun got mercilessly stronger. When we started, the digital thermometer at the gas station before the starting line read 84°F, i.e. 29°C.
Already dazed by the heat, I started with a tempo of 5 minutes and 20 seconds per kilometer. I was satisfied with my progress; the first 8 km of the road are descending, so I was, according to plan, passing 10 km in 52 minutes. But that is when disaster ensued. We entered a valley, on the left of which is a lake of some sort, all surrounded by pine woodland. There was no air and the asphalt was evaporating from the light night rain. I started breathing ‘through my gills’ and noticed that the tempo was collectively decreasing; the runners were starting to replenish
themselves with water circa every 2 kilometers, instead of the usual five. Everyone was grabbing up to three cups of water, which was warm because it was heated in the trucks. But you kept watering yourself and drinking, there was no other alternative. It became increasingly more difficult to keep up the rhythm and by the fifteenth kilometer, I stopped looking at my watch. The organizers’ messages to slow down the rhythm were passing through my mind. A race with the desired result of 3.45 hours was now an impossibility, so I decided to enjoy the atmosphere created by the fans and local residents. For the hour or two the parade of runners has been passing by their houses, people have been selflessly watering the runners, pouring them cold water and bringing out old rags which they soaked so that the runners could freshen up. I witnessed people exiting supermarkets carrying boxes with dozens of ice pops which they handed out to the runners. These were unique moments in which running ceased to be an individual sport. Everyone was one – the fans, runners, medical staff, volunteers, police officers, firemen.

A New Thrill Every Few Kilometers

Then came Wellesley, the women’s college where girls create the legendary screaming tunnel. I felt like a member of the Beatles, for whom the fan girls went mad; kisses and hugs were planted on the male runners! At the 25th kilometer, I encountered a group of my Austrian friends,
for whom I partook in a little photo-shoot and was pretty tired out by the jumping involved. At the 30th kilometer, I stumbled across a real jackpot: a gang with cold beer! After all that consumed warm water, cold beer had never hit the spot more. This was also reflected in my running, and so the next 5 km were once again a breeze. During the last few kilometers, I ran into a fan dressed up as Spiderman. I thought to myself: I can’t pass by Spiderman without taking a picture for my four-year-old son. After some mucking about, I continued down the legendary Heartbreak Hill and for the last 4 km through Boston entered the city heat amongst the other runners. There were more walking than running. The temperature on the display of a nearby pharmacy read 93°F (34°C). I had been on the path for over 4 hours and was at
the end of my rope; I gave in and started walking. I took out my mobile phone and saw a fellow marathoner’s text message: ‘Are you alive?’. The man was worried, so I gave him a call. I also called my wife. Both encouraged me and pulled me through this psychological crisis, and so
I suddenly once again had the strength to run, I was strong once again. Approximately 500 m before the finish line, I took in the atmosphere and saw the Croatian flag waving alongside the flags of the other runners. I was proud since it was there because of me... it was a special feeling!
I crossed the finish line with the time of 4:36 hours. I encountered friends who were also unsuccessful in achieving their planned times. They told me it just simply couldn’t be done. That day, 4,300 runners dropped out of the race, one of whom was saved from a heart attack. Five days after the marathon, it was announced on Facebook that 15 runners were still hospitalized in
critical condition. After having my picture taken at the finish line and showering, I took a can of beer, sat on a bench with a view of the Atlantic and gazed off into the distance, toward Zagreb... People dear to me called and wrote messages; tears and smiles were intermittent across my face. I was drained emotionally, but I had set a goal and reached it. What a beautiful feeling!

Wrote and ran: Berislav Sokač