Bob Clifford of the Medical Department was running his 22nd Boston Marathon. Stanley Hu, a junior in electrical engineering and computer science, was running his first.
For obvious reasons, their expectations were different.
Mr. Clifford was aiming to run the 26.2-mile course in 2:45 to 2:50 on Patriots Day. He finished in 285th place at 2:49:00, maintaining an even pace during the entire course from Hopkinton to Copley Square. Mr. Hu, running unofficially, was aiming to finish.
Each achieved his goal.
They were among dozens of MIT students, alumni/ae, faculty and staff who competed in the 103rd Boston Marathon.
"My fitness is not what it has been the past few years, and the weather was somewhat warm," said Mr. Clifford, an assistant industrial hygiene officer. "My cautious pace allowed me to enjoy the crowd a little more than in other years. With the exception of a huge blister on my left foot, I think I should come out of this marathon pretty healthy. So I guess it went about as well as I could have hoped."
'NOT FOR THE WEAK'
Mr. Hu, who started training last summer and averaged 70 miles a week on the road, finished in 3:25. He was thrilled. "Marathoning is not for the weak," he said.
Mr. Hu ran seven-minute miles for the first 18 miles of the marathon and felt like he was cruising. Then his legs started to cramp and he had to stop several times to stretch.
"I kept running through the pain," he said. "Somehow, my legs carried me home. I think all my training for the past year gave me the strength to do it. Right now, I can barely walk. My legs are more sore than they ever have been.
"Running a marathon is all about desire and discipline," he said. "People who watch the Boston Marathon talk about doing it the next year, but the real test comes during the training months before. During the summer, I trained on average 70 miles a week. I braved the snowstorms in January, running eight to 10 miles through the frigid weather. I squeezed in runs between classes while juggling a 15-hour part-time job and a full course load."
Mr. Hu started at the back of the pack in Hopkinton with two teammates on the MIT cross-country team, juniors Frank Johnston and Ryan Peoples. All three ran unofficially.
"I think we must have passed almost half the field en route to Boston," said Mr. Hu, who will try to qualify to officially run in next year's Boston Marathon by running 3:10 or less in the San Francisco or Atlanta marathons. "People who had official numbers were a bit amazed that we were zooming by them. Friends saw us flying through the course at miles 12, 14 and 15." Mr. Johnston finished in 3:10 and Mr. Peoples in 3:35.
A FRIEND IN DEED
Jim Garcia, a mechanical engineer at Lincoln Laboratory, entered his 11th Boston Marathon as an afterthought. "Everybody at work was asking me if I was going to run, so I figured I should," said Mr. Garcia (SB 1980), who finished 11th in the masters division (ages 40-49) in 2:33.44.
"I had some blistering problems early on," said Mr. Garcia. "Either my socks were too thin or my shoes were too roomy. I was trying some different shoes, as I have an important 100km [62-mile] race next month in France, and I wanted to try these shoes in a race first."
Fortunately for Mr. Garcia, he saw MIT graduate Terry McNatt watching the race in Framingham, at about the seven-mile mark.
"I stopped and made him take off his socks and give them to me," said Mr. Garcia. "I took my shoes and socks off again at 15 miles to relubricate my feet. I ran pretty well considering my feet were bothering me most of the way. The last few miles were tough. I ran the last mile terribly, as I knew I couldn't break 2:33. My legs were hammered the last few miles as usual."
Alumnus Jesse Darley finished 56th overall in 2:31:04. Arnold Seto, a graduate student at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology, finished 108th in 2:38:23, just beating the top American female finisher, Lynn Jennings (2:38:37). He passed her on Heartbreak Hill and never let up.
Other MIT runners and their times included Hector Perez, a graduate student in architecture, 2:47:29; Stephen Gay, an engineer in Facilities, 3:17:33; Andrea Hatch, administrative officer for the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 4:34:26; and Neil Gleason, a security officer at Lincoln Laboratory, 5:04:09.
Then there was the veteran marathon runner who hoped to run 3:30 and finished in 3:55. "A disaster," said the woman, who shall remain anonymous. "Do you need to know the gory details? I would like to forget it."
A version of this article appeared in the April 28, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 28).