MAKING STRIDES FOR THE MASTRONARDI MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FUND
By: Dan Campagna, Emmanuel College Assistant
Sports Information Director
To the city of Boston, Marathon Monday is more than just a day off from work or school. It’s a chance for locals to head down to the race to cheer on and support the thousands of participants that have made the long-term commitment to endure the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton all the way to Boylston Street. Every entrant has a different story or motive behind their race. Some compete for the glory of a potential crown, like the elite male and female racers that will finish the course in less than 2.5 hours time. Others race for the thrill and excitement of the adrenaline rush along the way while many don bib numbers in the honor or memory of someone special. One such bib number this year was #23588, belonging to Emmanuel College Associate Athletic Director and SID, Alexis Mastronardi.
Mastronardi completed the 116th Boston Marathon in 5:00:44, running the race for the John Mastronardi Memorial Scholarship Fund in memory of her father who was an avid runner and longtime special education teacher in the Revere, MA school system. This year, Alexis raised over $5,000 dollars for the scholarship fund which goes towards two scholarships of $2,500 each for Revere High School graduating seniors, who plans to major in Special Education in college and who shares John’s enthusiasm, energy and passion for helping others.
This was not her first go-round with running Boston, but it was her first marathon in 12 years so the training and preparation was a little different this time around. Alexis ran her first Boston Marathon back in 1999 when she ran for the scholarship fund with her college roommate and then raced again in 2000 on her own.
“Preparing for this race is tough because the majority of your long runs leading up to it take place over the winter, in 35 degree weather,” said Mastronardi. “You really never know what you’re going to get. It’s one of those things where it could be a beautiful 65 degree spring day or you can get the summer heat and sun to make things interesting.”
Monday’s race was certainly interesting, hitting temperatures of 88 degrees in Boston during the main stretch of the course for the majority of the runners. Knowing that the temperatures would spike, the Boston Athletic Association (BAA) who organize the marathon informed runners that anyone wishing to defer their bib numbers to the 2013 marathon would be allowed to without any penalty.
Even with this option available, Mastronardi was up for the challenge of running Boston in the heat.
“My dad ran the 1976 Boston Marathon which had temperatures hit 96 degrees,” said Mastronardi. “It was so awesome that the BAA gave runners this choice but after going through the training this winter, there was no way I was going to defer when I knew I was ready this year.”
In true Emmanuel fashion, Mastronardi had the Saints support from the very start of the race all the way through her finish. Longtime assistant Track & Field coach Alice Kramer helped shuttle Alexis out to Hopkinton where she then provided a refuge at a friend’s home until she went out to start the race during Wave 3 around 10:40 AM.
Along the course, Alexis ran into several Emmanuel student-athletes and staff members who were out to support all the runners.
“It was absolutely amazing the type of support I saw throughout the day,” said Mastronardi. “There were administrators, student-athletes and Emmanuel alumni cheering me on, not to mention countless members of my family and friends who made it out to show their support. I couldn’t have done it without them!”
Mastronardi admits that it wasn’t always easy, especially during the hills in Newton during the final leg of the marathon.
“I was doing great up until about mile 16, keeping pace with my goal of 10-minute miles but then the heat started to get to me and I slowed down a bit. When I got to heartbreak hill, I had to stop and walk but I didn’t feel that bad because when I looked up I noticed that I wasn’t the only one, in fact, there were more walkers than runners at that point,” said Mastronardi.
Luckily for Mastronardi, she had a large contingent of family and friends waiting for her around mile 17 which helped her refocus and finish the race strong. She actually took a few minutes to stop and say hello, sit down on the curb and change her shoes and socks before getting back to the race.
Mastronardi noted that throughout the entire 26.2 mile course, there was not one spot, on either side of the road where people were not cheering.
“The crowd support was incredible. People had sprinklers set up to help cool off the runners and random families had fruit stations set up to hand out to runners. It was all just so cool and definitely a huge reason why runners like me were able to make it the whole distance,” said Mastronardi.
Alexis admits that this race was most likely her last marathon but hopes to pass the torch on to her younger brother for next year.
“Running the Boston Marathon is something to be very proud of,” said Mastronardi. “For all the first-time runners or runners that raised money for a charity, it’s not about the end time but rather just setting your goal to make it to the finish. It’s about the whole experience, taking it all in and knowing that the money you raised is making a difference somewhere for someone.”
Well said, Alexis. Everyone over at Emmanuel is very proud of you and we know that John would be proud as well!
Congratulation on your amazing accomplishment!!
*Alexis would like to send a huge thank you to all of her family, friends and supporters that helped make running this year’s marathon possible. She’d also like to give a special thank you to Ron Kramer of the BAA for his continued help and support in reserving bib numbers for the John Mastronardi Memorial Scholarship Foundation each year.