Wilmington-area runners celebrate Patriot’s Day, cross Boylston Street finish line at 121st Boston Marathon

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BOSTON, Mass. – Whether it was the first trip to New England or another opportunity to run in the world’s oldest race, there’s something special about crossing the famed finish line on Boylston Street. Nearly 40 runners from the Wilmington area were able to make an experience of a lifetime come true on Monday at the 121st running of the Boston Marathon.

Residents from Hampstead to Ocean Isle Beach, ranging in age from 29-to-70, made the journey, completing the memorable 26.2-mile trek that winds through Beantown and its surrounding neighborhoods.

A solid group of runners from Wilmington area represented Port City in Boston. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF COLIN HACKMAN)
A solid group of runners from Wilmington area represented Port City in Boston. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF COLIN HACKMAN)

Port City Daily was able to catch up with two dedicated runners from Wilmington as they shared perspectives one could only give from a first-hand point of view on Patriots Day in Boston.

For Erik Rasmussen, 41, it was his third time running the Boston Marathon, but first chance he was able to do so with his 15-month old daughter, Zealie, watching.

“It was great day,” Rasmussen said. “It was a lot hotter weather wise than people might have wanted it, but Boston is always a cool experience.”

Rasmussen is a veteran marathoner who completed Boston twice before in 2007 and 2009. He also runs locally-based Erik’s Adventures, which combine his family’s appetite for travel and sport as he and his wife, Myra, host a destination marathon and vacation business.

The couple organizes and hosts customized active adventure trips, group tours, and singles vacations to a variety of exotic travel destinations. Rasmussen actually is set to travel to Hong Kong on Tuesday to lead a group through China for the next few days, while his wife and young daughter fly back to Wilmington.

“Hosting an event like the Inca Trail Marathon that is so difficult makes a lot of other things seem easy including ‘regular trail’ running, meaning not at 13,000 plus feet,” Rasmussen said.  “So when I do those types of runs, my experience doing it in Peru and Tanzania I think really pays off.

“We’ve added trekking and running in Tanzania and launching another new race, The Kilimanjaro race to the Summit of the mountain,” he said “It’s pretty hardcore. Training involves doing a ton of stairs and hill intervals as well as getting used to trails.”

From left, Stuart Ross, Rick Poplaski and Mark Claycomb during a Saturday morning run on the marathon route at the famous Johnny Kelley statue on Commonwealth Avenue. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF STUART ROSS)
From left, Stuart Ross, Rick Poplaski and Mark Claycomb during a Saturday morning run on the marathon route at the famous Johnny Kelley statue on Commonwealth Avenue. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF STUART ROSS)

For Rasmussen, the hills of Boston and noted inclines, including “Heartbreak Hill,” that runners often hear about before tackling the marathon must have been easy for a guy who runs in elevation for fun.

He was through the half-marathon in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 55 seconds, unofficially, and closed the race fastest among the local pack in just two hours and 45 minutes (02:42:35).

Rasmussen averaged a 6 minute and 10 second mile and placed 217 overall. He was 29th among his age group, male 40-44.

“I was three minutes slower than the marathon I won in Virginia a few years ago and happy with that considering the conditions,” Rasmussen said.

Related: Erik’s Adventures: Wilmington man turns love of running into growing business 

On the other side of the spectrum, Colin Hackman is well-known among the local running community. He serves as head coach of the Cape Fear Academy Cross-Country team and is often responsible for the logistics and timing of individuals during many running events  across the area.

However, Hackman tackled his first Boston Marathon on Monday after months of training. He crossed the half-marathon threshold at 1 hour, 27 minutes and 49 seconds and finished the 26.2 mile run in just under three hours (02:58.29)

“I had Coach Tom Clifford at Without Limits write me a plan in December and I’ve stuck to it,” Hackman said. “I averaged about 65 miles a week, with a few weeks above 70. Marathon racing is new to me so to have the guidance of seasoned veterans both on the coaching side, and as teammates during workouts and training runs has been a big help.”

What makes the Boston Marathon so special

The Boston Marathon has been run annually since 1897. The event attracts 500,000 spectators each year, making it New England’s most widely viewed sporting event. The marathon attracts an average of about 30,000 registered participants each year.

“There are many things that make Boston special,” Hackman said. “I believe the thing that makes Boston truly special is the qualification standards. If running a marathon wasn’t enough, the Boston Athletic Association limits entries based on how fast you have run in another marathon.

Wilmington runners along the Charles River in Boston. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF STUART ROSS)
Wilmington runners along the Charles River in Boston. (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY OF STUART ROSS)

“No other major marathon takes the time and energy to check each of the 30,000 athletes to make sure they have hit the mark. And no other marathon limits entries to those who have proven they can get it done in another race.”

Nearly 40 runners from Wilmington run Boston Marathon

From hosting the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon to many other local 5K, 10K and half-marathons each year, the Wilmington area has become a well-known destination for those who have a passion for running.

Hackman believes it says a lot about this relatively small city and the people who make it a mission to stay actively fit and compete in events like the Boston Marathon.

“We are solid on many levels,” Hackman added. “The Without Limits Running Team has really helped the Wilmington scene in the last decade with training designed specifically to get folks to Boston.

“But it goes beyond that: Our area is healthy with youth clubs, adult clubs, and to have a legit NCAA program at UNCW makes for a steady flow of people interested in the sport,” he said. “People who come visit from Charlotte or Raleigh are blown away by the size and organization of our running community.”

Robert Ward was among one of fasted runners from the Wilmington group. He finished in just over three-hours (03:00:48). Michelle Fogle was the top female runner in the area to tackle Boston with an unofficial time of 03:18.44.

Listed below are the names of each local runner who qualified for the Boston Marathon. Click here to search their times on the Boston Athletic Association’s website.

Wilmington area runners at Boston Marathon

  • Jennifer Burdette
  • Johan Du Pisanie
  • Brenda Estlack
  • Michelle Fogle
  • Colin Hackman
  • Ryan Hilton
  • Kelli Kerkhoff
  • Shelley Malloy
  • Tracy McCullen
  • Pat McHugh
  • Donnie Norris
  • Rick O’Donnell
  • Jen Peterken
  • Rick Poplaski
  • Karen Pulkkinen
  • Erik Rasmussen
  • Stuart Ross
  • Rhonda Schilawski
  • David Southerland
  • Natalie Turner
  • Rob Ward
  • Shawn Wellersdick
  • John Cockrum
  • Phillip Davis Sr.
  • Courtney Dennis
  • David Hill
  • Cari Van Winkle
  • Mark Claycomb
  • Mark Austin
  • Amanda Jacobs