3 p.m., April 26)
Local runner conquers the elements to complete Boston Marathon
By Fred Sherwin
The Orléans Star
The Boston Marathon is widely regarded in the running world
as one of the most grueling marathons in the world largely
because of the course, which is extremely hilly.
De Hoog kisses her medal after completing
the Boston Marathon on April 16. PHOTO PROVIDED
at the best of times, it is an absolutely monster when
the weather turns bad, as it did this year.
weather conditions for this year’s marathon were among
the worst in the races 122-year history. When the race
started, the temperature was one degree celcius and the
rain was coming down in sheets. To make matters even worse,
the runners had to face an almost constant head wind with
gusts up to 40 km/hr.
exactly ideal conditions to run only your second marathon,
but those were the conditions Orléans native and Gloucdester
High School alum Vanessa De Hoog faced when she set out
on the 42km course through the suburbs of Beantown.
was the worst conditions I have ever run in, not just
because it was cold and you were constantly wet, but because
when I ran cross-country it was only 20 minutes over a
5K course. This was four hours long into a constant head
wind with the rain coming in horizontal for 42 kilometres,”
says De Hoog. But somehow she managed to make her way
through it from start to finish and couldn’t be more proud
was an accumulation of me proving to myself how strong
of a person I have become despite everything I have been
through as a person.”
Hoog’s Boston Marathon exper-ience started with her getting
up at 5:30 in the morning and figuring out the multiple
layers of clothing she would need to wear to stay warm
then hired an Uber with some other runners to take them
to the finish line where they could pick up their numbers
and hopped on a shuttle bus to take them to the start
in Hopkinton which is a suburb west of Boston.
was on the way to the start that the fun began.
driver got lost. He had no idea where he was going. Actually
a policeman pulled him over and had to give him directions.
It was nuts,” says De Hoog.
Hoog waves at a Boston Marathon photographer
during a lighter moment in this year's Boston
Marathon. PHOTO PROVIDED
they checked in at the start area, she and most of the
other 32,500 participants had to wait in the middle of
a field for their appointed start time. The Boston Marathon
is run in waves depending on your qualification time.
the time De Hoog’s group was called to the start line,
they had been waiting over an hour.
wasn’t even a field it was a mud bowl. I had bags over
my shoes trying to keep them dry and Zip Lock bags over
my gloves. The wind was blowing like crazy and your hands
are frozen trying to pin your bib on. By that time you
just wanted to start the race.”
De Hoog walked to start line she started laughing.
just thought to myself that we’re all a bunch of crazy
people for wanting to do this in those condition. You
have to be nuts.
biggest fear was getting hypo-thermia and not being able
to finish the race. I’ve had frostbite before and pneumonia,
so my lungs don’t do so well in the cold,” explains De
didn’t help that she pinned her bib across the zipper
of her jacket making it impossible to shed any layers.
“Yeah, that wasn’t too smart. I dressed to stay warm,
but then everything got wet and cold.”
first 15 kilometres were incredibly difficult for the
25-year-old De Hoog, and the situation was made even worse
when she started through the infamous Newton Hills at
the 25 km mark.
was physically ready for the hills from my training, but
I wasn’t psycho-logically ready. It felt like they were
never going to end,” says De Hoog.
the time she reached the Hills, De Hoog was resigned to
the fact that she wasn’t going to meet the goal she had
set herself for a potential finishing time.
it dawned on me that I wasn’t going to come close to the
time I was hoping for, I relaxed and just started soaking
up the experience. Running in the Boston Marathon was
a dream I had ever since high school. So to actually be
there was an accomplishment in itself.”
Hoog also had 26 other reasons to keep going. Her students
at South March Public School where she teaches were following
her on their computers. Each athlete has a timing band
around their ankle or their wrist that’s synced to their
Marathon website so supporters can track their progress
on the Internet.
kids at South March were following De Hoog every step
of the way.
had a whole classroom full of students who were tracking
me and I dedicated a kilometre for each of them, so I
told myself I have to enjoy this for the kids because
I owed it to them. By that time the rain didn’t matter.
The weather didn’t matter. I knew I was going to finish.”
De Hoog saw the giant Citgo sign that marks the final
mile of the Marathon, she started to pick up her pace
knowing that her students had promised to go outside and
run the last mile with her.
she crossed the finish line she ran over to her mother,
Ingrid, and a family friend who had waited two hours in
the rain to see her run the final 800 metres.
she finally finished the race in three hours and 33 minutes
she collapsed in a volunteers arms and started sobbing.
The emotion of having finished the Boston Marathon in
the conditions she endured came pouring out of her.
wasn’t just running the race for me. I was running for
all those people who have supported me over the years
ever since I dreamed of running in the Marathon,” explained
De Hoog, who got en extra pre-race boost from her former
track coach at Gloucester Sean Clancy.
just wished me luck and told me that I could do it,"
says De Hoog.
if she planned to come back to Boston to run the marathon
again, De Hoog deferred to others who have yet to run
a hard race to qualify for. I’ve had my turn, so now it’s
somebody else’s turn. I would like to come back eventually,
but there are other marathons I want to run in like Chicago
and New York. So we’ll see.”
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)