Steamboat runner ready for 22nd Boston Marathon
April 17, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Despite the odds, Jennifer Schubert-Akin made the roughly 2,100-mile voyage from Steamboat Springs to Boston during the weekend, leaving only 26.2 miles to go to cross the finish line.
The recent snowstorm that wreaked havoc across Colorado also made getting to Denver International Airport a difficult task for Schubert-Akin, who was attempting to catch a flight to the East Coast to compete in Monday's 120th running of the Boston Marathon. She made it to DIA only to find all flights canceled, so instead hopped in a rental car, drove through the night to Wichita, Kansas, where she found a flight to Boston through Chicago on Saturday morning.
"We were very lucky to get on those flights. We were a little tired yesterday, but it all worked out," Schubert-Akin said Sunday. "When I started all this craziness 21 years ago, I was 37 years old. If you would have told me I'd still be running this thing 21 years later, I would have thought you were crazy."
Had Schubert-Akin, 58, not been able to make Monday's marathon, it would have broken an impressive streak. This will be her 22nd straight Boston Marathon, a stretch that started with her first back in 1995 — before the race had timing chips — and only a few months before she moved to Steamboat from Texas.
She remembers those races of two decades ago. In the ’90s, the number of competitors was fewer than 10,000 and the whole ordeal was relatively laid back. In 2016, the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the race, set a cap of 30,000 runners in what is claimed to be the world's oldest annual marathon.
"It's the history and tradition of the Boston Marathon. It's such a special race for so many reasons," Schubert-Akin said referencing the reason she returns each year. "The qualifying standards are obtainable, but they are challenging. That's why it's a big bucket-list item for a lot of people, if you want to use that term. It's kind of the Holy Grail of marathons. There are certainly other marathons that are scenic and have their own unique aspect. Like, the Steamboat Marathon is just a wonderful race. But it's the qualifying, it's the history, it's the tradition of it."
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The Boston Marathon started in 1897 and is held each year on Patriots' Day, a Massachusetts holiday, which commemorates the anniversary of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. The course starts outside of Boston in the historic town of Hopkinton, before finishing 26 miles later in the heart of downtown.
In 2015, Schubert-Akin finished the race just shy of four hours, about 10 minutes ahead of the qualifying standard she needed to return this year. She has been there through it all, including the 2013 terrorist bombings that killed three and injured 264. That year, she had only crossed the finish line a few minutes before the first bomb went off.
"I don't know if it weighs on their minds," Schubert-Akin said about the impact the bombings has on today's athletes. "People observe it in a respectful way. I wouldn't describe it as weighing people down, but people are mindful of it. They are not forgetting."
What can weigh on her mind, however, is one of the reasons she competes each year. Schubert-Akin long has been raising money for the Colorado-Wyoming chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis society and to date has brought in about $90,000, including the $7,000 raised so far this year.
Her sister, Yvonne Miller, suffers from MS and no longer can walk because of the disease.
"She just gets up everyday and does the best she can," Schubert-Akin said. "Glad to do what we can to support research. I know they are making advances, it just seems like it's not happening fast enough to help people like my sister."
The 120th Boston Marathon will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will be live streamed at baa.org.
For Schubert-Akin, a devoted trail runner, Monday's race will be one of the few times, if only times, she takes to the pavement all year.
"I really prefer to take my dogs out on the nice, mountain trails and do some trail races in the summer," Schubert-Akin said. “Things that are much lower key than this."
To donate to Schubert-Akin's fund for multiple sclerosis, visit her page at nationalmssociety.org.
According to the race’s official entry list, Schubert-Akin is one of three Steamboat residents registered for Monday’s race, alongside Lucas Crespin, 31, and Jessie Sykes, 24.
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