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Ready and running for Boston

Wheaton staff, students participating in 2014 Marathon

As thousands of runners, volunteers, fans and supporters crowd into Boston this Patriots’ Day to celebrate the 118th Boston Marathon, a few Wheaton faces will be among them.

Bill Kole, Visiting Instructor

Bill Kole, a visiting instructor in English and proud father of Erin Kole Corry ’12, will not only be running the 2014 marathon, he’ll also be writing Twitter updates every mile for all 26.2 miles of the race. Students in his ENG 285 Journalism course at Wheaton will be following his tweets via twitter.com/billkole or #26Tweets2Boston.

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As New England bureau chief for The Associated Press, Kole will be an embedded reporter, sharing, as he puts it, a “runner’s-eye view of the race in real time as it unfolds: the mood, atmosphere and spirit of the 36,000 indomitable souls who will be lining up in Hopkinton.”

Last year, Kole and his wife were in Boston cheering on his Greater Boston Track Club teammates during the marathon. They left an hour before the bombs exploded.

“It's chilling to think we were so close,” he said. “But I knew instantly I had to run this year. How often do you get to use a pacifist sport like running to essentially poke a terrorist in the eye?”

Kole had planned to retire last year from running marathons (he previously ran the event in 2011 and 2012), but after the attacks on Boylston Street, he knew he needed to do one more.

As for whether he will officially be done with the marathon after this year’s race, Kole had this to say: “Yes. Absolutely. No question. I think.”

Scott Nickle ’11
Assistant Director of the Wheaton Fund

Though he is a committed runner and recently completed his first marathon, Scott Nickle ’11 won’t be hitting the pavement in this year’s Boston Marathon. But he will be there, passing out water to runners at the halfway mark in Wellesley.

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Nickle, who is assistant director of the Wheaton Fund, said he felt it was important to help out this year’s marathoners, particularly the many who run to raise funds for nonprofits.

I have over the past year heard so many tales from friends about where they were along the way during the bombing. One of things that gets me was the choice to set off the devices around the time that the charity runners finished. These people, running for support of many important causes, were targeted,” Nickle said. “While people have a right to be concerned about safety this year, I feel that it is important to stand up and keep on.”

Nickle is volunteering to help through his running group, the Wampanoag Road Runners. Earlier in April, he ran his first marathon, the Garden Spot Village Marathon in Lancaster, Penn. With just over 1,000 runners, the event was a very different experience from Boston, taking participants through rural Amish country.

As the oldest continual marathon, the Boston Marathon holds a special place in Nickle’s heart.

I love all the traditions,” he said. “It's amazing how the whole city seems to stop what they're doing and come together to celebrate year after year.”

Jennifer Dempsey, Diving Coach

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Jennifer Dempsey, who coaches men’s and women’s diving at Wheaton College, will be at the finish line this year cheering on her son, Kevin, as he runs his first Boston Marathon.

“He has participated in several races and is a pretty strong runner,” Dempsey said. “ His goal is to finish in 2 hours 45-50 minutes, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Marianne Singer ’93
Associate Director of the Filene Center

Marianne Singer ’93 has run 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons, though she hasn’t done a full 26.2. This year, she and other members of the Cape Cod Athletic Club will be preparing and handing out food to Boston Marathon participants after they cross the finish line.

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She had long been considering helping out at the marathon and decided this year it was time.

“Whether it’s under the circumstances of this year, where they’re celebrating a year after a tragedy, or it’s just the race itself, it’s an awe-inspiring event. Boston really comes alive, and it’s a great weekend to be in the city,” she said.

With a huge increase in volunteer interest for this year’s marathon, the Boston Athletic Association was only able to select about one-third of the volunteers who submitted applications. Singer was one of the lucky ones to get through.

She had to be in the city by 6 a.m. to prepare food and said she planned to represent Wheaton on Marathon Day.

“I’ll be wearing a Wheaton cross country T-shirt under my volunteer jacket,” she said.

Julia Wallace 17

A member of Wheaton’s women’s track and field team, Julia Wallace ’17 has volunteered twice at the Boston Marathon, in 2012 and 2013. She’ll be back this year, volunteering at the finish line fluids station with longtime friend Jordan Griffiths, a student at UMass Amherst.

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“After the 2012 marathon many people asked me if I would be back in 2013. Without hesitation I would say ‘absolutely.’ After the 2013 marathon even more people asked me if I would be back in 2014 and before they could even get the question out of their mouth I would respond ‘absolutely,’” Wallace said. “I am volunteering in the 2014 Boston Marathon because it is what I have done in the past, and it is something I like to do.”

Wallace said it is important to her that the events of last year do not hold her back.

“I promised myself the night of April 15, 2013 that that would not be my last marathon. Handing out Gatorade with Jordan is something that I look forward to. We love acting goofy and making the runners laugh,” she said.

Her favorite part of the Boston Marathon: “Seeing these men and women of all different shapes, sizes and nationalities reach out for their cup of Gatorade and seeing the smiles spread across their faces. It is usually around this point that they realize this is the last cup of lemon-lime Gatorade they will have to drink on their 26.2-mile journey.”

Lily Lu ’16

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Wheaton sophomore Lily Lu ’16 is heading up to Boston with friends to watch the marathon. Now in her second year living just outside the city, Lu said she feels a special kinship toward Boston.

“Since I am beginning to think myself a part of where I am now, I want to show up and support Boston,” Lu said.

Though she isn’t running the event, Lu said she finds it inspiring.

“I have heard the Boston Marathon is very historical and very difficult because it has many hills, so the spirit of conquering the difficulties and holding on inspires me,” she said.