An Okotoks runner got wrapped up in more than a blanket when she completed the famed Boston Marathon for the first time on Monday.
Niki Doyle got a hug from her husband — and avid runner — Burke Doyle.
“I was really blessed to have him there and to see his smiling face,” the 44-year-old Doyle said from Boston. “The whole experience was just amazing.”
Doyle completed the 42.2km race in 3:49:08, about 10 minutes slower than her qualifying time, but she had no complaints. Fellow Okotokian Lori Toombs also finished, crossing at 3:54:08.
“It was such a hard course in my opinion and it was so hot — and I am not used to the heat,” Doyle said. “But overall, I am happy. My friend Gerry, who has ran it several times, said lots of runners would add 20 minutes to their qualifying time… With the hills and the heat, I don’t think I could have done better.”
Sure it was hot, but Doyle realized this is Boston.
“There are tons of runners around you and tons of support watching the race,” she said. “You are humbled to be in a race with some of the best runners in the world.”
She soaked in the experience like the water she dumped on her head to cool off – with enthusiasm.
Thrilled by the fighter jets that flew over at the starting line and wowed by the loud Wellesley Scream midway through the race — she opted not to get the traditional kiss from fans at the Scream.
Doyle also was relieved to get up Heartbreak Hill, the last of four-famed hills at around the 36k mark.
“I got to the top and I said to one of the runners: ‘Was that Heartbreak Hill?’” Doyle said. “He said ‘That was it – congratulations, you made it.’”
As she approached the finish line, the clock inspired her.
“When I turned on to Boston Street and when I saw I could get under 3:50, I really wanted to,” Doyle said. “The whole experience was a bucket list item for me. It is something I will never forget.”
Toombs completed her third Boston. She knows it’s not possible, but she claims the hills are a bit longer than when the 53-year-old last run it in 2005.
“I don’t remember it being that hilly,” Toombs said with a laugh. “The hills aren’t nothing like we have at home, but I thought it was lot harder than the last time I ran it.”
Toombs added the heat was also a factor. Although the run starts early in the morning, she said the temperature was around 22 C when the race started.
“It just got warmer, it definitely hurt our times,” Toombs said. “But it was fun, I enjoyed it.”
However, it’s not like she was being timed with a calendar. Toombs’ 3:54:08 effort was fast enough to qualify the veteran Beantown runner for the run next year.
If she does go, she could arrange to have a travel partner.
Doyle qualified for the 2018 Boston with her effort in Victoria in November.
“I think I can do better now that I can know the course,” Doyle said. “God willing, I can do better next year.”
The two runners may have one more run in them this year. Local athletes who ran in Boston are invited to lead the High River-to-Okotoks Friendship Run on May 22 at 9 a.m.