Winning stories of the 2018 first-time Boston Marathon qualifiers contest

[ Congratulations to all 2018 Boston Marathon Qualifiers! Use promocode FIRSTBOSTON and get 25% off Long Road to Boston in eBook format! Redeem it here ]

Every runner I’ve ever met has a story to share about their racing experience. On September 20, 2017 registration for the 123 Boston Marathon officially opened and I asked first-time Boston Marathon qualifiers to share their road to Boston with me for a chance to win a 2018 Boston Marathon training kit: Mizuno Wave Rider 20, WigWam running socks, ZizuOptics eyewear, Nathan Streak Reflective Vest and a personalized copy of my book, Long Road to Boston.

Here are the winning stories. Complete honourary 2018 Boston Marathon first-time qualifiers list follows the winning stories.

Winner of  2018 Boston Marathon training kit:

Henry Howard
Determined road to Boston

Qualifying event: Indianapolis Monumental
Qualifying time: 3:25
2 attempts
I started running in my early 40s with a goal to complete a marathon. When I crossed that line in November 2012, I realized it as only the beginning. Soon after, I set my goal to qualify for Boston, even though I would need to take off about 45 minutes from my first marathon time. I continued to persevere through injuries, disappointment and steady gains until I toed the line at the Indianapolis Monumental (the same marathon as my first 26.2 four years earlier). I stuck to my goal, ran a very even pace and finished in 3:23:26, more than 90 seconds better than my qualifying time. My mantra throughout my training and the race was the same line I regularly preached to my kids as they played youth sports: Don't give up. Don't ever give up.
Twitter: HenryHoward  Instagram: HenryHoward


Runners-up

Each runner-up receives a personalized copy of Long Road to Boston

Chelsie Smith
Resilient road to Boston

Qualifying event: Ottawa Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:29:03
2 attempts
I had completed one marathon previously (in February 2013) and though it was a BQ time, I was not able to actually apply to be a Boston Qualifier that fall. I was putting a tonne of pressure on myself to run every training run as quickly as I could, and I tied my self-esteem into running fast times and the congratulations I would get because of these. Cue impending disaster. I ended up over-training and causing extreme damage to the soft tissue in my lower right leg. When I finally stopped running, it took 9 weeks until I could walk down the stairs without crying out in pain and 12 weeks before I could walk down stairs without clutching the railing for help.

After 12 months off workouts of any kind, 18 months off running, and the help of a psychiatrist, I started out on my personal road to Boston. I was a lot slower than before, but I knew that I had both the resilience and courage to build myself back up to where I was. I began running again in the spring of 2015, and successfully raced my BQ in the spring of 2017. I no longer tie my self-esteem to my racing times, and every day that I get to run is a privilege. I have met some of my best friends and the greatest support team I could ever ask for through running, and look forward to thinking of them while I'm running down Boylston (with tears streaming down my face, for sure!). They're the ones who helped me when I thought I was down and out and certain I would never be able to make it back to that BQ status, and I will be forever grateful to them for it.
Twitter: chelsiejo39  

Emmanuelle LeBlanc
Shared road to Boston

Qualifying event: Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:31:38
2 attempts
I ran my first marathon just under 4 hours and I was extremely proud of myself. A friend told me: "Wow that's pretty fast, I'm sure you could qualify for Boston sometime soon". I thought "yeah, right, if I could shave off nearly half an hour!" When I was preparing for my next marathon a year later, I had that idea in mind. I started looking at what kind of pace I would need to have. I thought I was still pretty far off so I aimed for something in between. I would work my way there. I aimed for around 3:45. I totally surprised myself and finished in 3:36:51.

A few days later, I met a man who is today my boyfriend. He also ran the same marathon and had qualified for Boston. He was surprised with how close I was to meeting the qualifying time and told me I had to do it! He suggested we run the Toronto Marathon in the spring since it was known to be flat and fast, and was certain I could do it. That way we could be at the starting line of the Boston Marathon together. On the morning of the race, he took out a marker and wrote on my arm "on my way to Boston". He said "I wrote that on my arm and it kept me focused and motivated whenever it started to get hard". So I ran hard but the last few kilometers were tough. I couldn't stay on pace. It didn't matter to me what was on my arm. What mattered was that I was not alone on my journey to Boston. Someone had encouraged me, supported me and was excited to share the special moment with me. I think that really pushed me to keep giving it everything I had left.
Instagram: emmavleblanc

Craig Herrington
Moving road to Boston

Qualifying event: Cornwall run to end MS
Qualifying time: 3:12:26 (3:15)
1st attempt
Spent 15 years of my life between 30 and 80 pounds overweight and remember vividly being winded tying my shoes. 5 years ago, when my twin boys were just turning 1, I developed a condition known as Guillain Barre syndrome. I was completely paralyzed and doctors didn't know if I would ever recover. It took all my energy to lift my foot up one stair, take my shirt off (which would get stuck over my head), and even write my name. As I regained muscle function I started to run. 5k's - 10's - 1/2 marathon and then 3 years later a marathon. Just happy to move.
Instagram: Craigherrington

Dale Pfrimmer
Hard road to Boston

Qualifying event: Des Moines
Qualifying time: 3:24:56
4 attempts
It took me 11 years to run my 2nd marathon, first in 2004 Twin Cities, a terrible experience, severely undertrained. Then ran Ran Twin Cities in 2015. Focused and trained hard. Realized BQ was not out of the question and kept striving for it. Then ran LA Marathon in Feb 2016, Fargo in May of 2016, and BQ'd at Des Moines in October.
Twitter: DalePfrimmer

Denis Dore
Determined road to Boston

Qualifying event: 2017 Ottawa Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:49:23
1st attempt
Started running late in life, 52. Did a few races and in 2012 at the age of 55 I ran my first marathon, finished just under 4hrs. 2013 I was diagnosed with "Lymphoplasmacytic" a form of blood cancer. After going through treatment and the support of family and friends I was determined to get back running. Fast forward to 2015 I ran the Army Half in 1:40, my running buddies hinted with a bit determination and hard work, I should be able to qualify for Boston. So my son put together a training program and in May I was ready to give it a shot. My goal was to hit 3:45 but I had to settle for 3:49:23. I am still happy with the result and can't get over how many people find that amazing. To me it wasn't that spectacular but I guess people are really nice in the running community and respectful of someone who attempts to qualify for Boston. After being through my battle with cancer, running has meant so much to me, it gives me a place where I am in control. When I have days I don't feel like training I look back and see how lucky I am to be able to run. Others are not so lucky…

[ Congratulations to all 2018 Boston Marathon Qualifiers! Use promo code FIRSTBOSTON and get 25% off Long Road to Boston in eBook format! Redeem it here ]

Honourary 2018 Boston Marathon first-time qualifiers list

Kerrie Adams
Epic road to Boston

Qualifying event: Mississauga Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:32 hrs
1st attempt

Robert Arcand
Long road to Boston... but I have the time

Qualifying event: Mohawk Hudson River Marathon
Qualifying time: 3h46m21s
10 attempts

Joanne Barber
Amazing road to Boston

Qualifying event: BIG SUR
Qualifying time: 4:38:10
1st attempt
Twitter: OnTheBruce

Catherine Berry
Steady road to Boston

Qualifying event: Ottawa Marathon
Qualifying time: 4:36:55
1st attempt
Twitter: Muskadobbit
Instagram: Muskadobbit

Bob Van Blitterswyk
Determined road to Boston

Qualifying event: Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:29:11
3 attempts

Greg Burnham
My road to Boston

Qualifying event: Chicago Marathon 2016
Qualifying time: 3:27:49
4 attempts
Twitter: becomingajock
Instagram: becomingajock

Anita Choquette
Fantastic road to Boston

Qualifying event: 2016 Mohawk Hudson, Albany NY
Qualifying time: Since I have just turned 60 yrs my new qualifying time is 4:25. My marathon 2016 finishing time was was 4:12:48. So I'm hopeful to get in.
3 attempts

Susannah Crabtree
Pilgrimage on the road to Boston

Qualifying event: Cape Breton Fiddlers Marathon 2017
Qualifying time: I ran 3:40:19 - the qualifying time is 3:45
1st attempt

Steve Dawson
Surreal road to Boston

Qualifying event: Glass City Marathon April 2017
Qualifying time: 3:31:51
5 attempts

Ali Davis
Winding road to Boston

Qualifying event: The County Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:29
1st attempt
Instagram: aliddavis

Stephane Daneau
Courageous road to Boston

Qualifying event: Cornwall Marathon 2017
Qualifying time: 3h06
6 attempts

Kathryn Dworak
Inconceivable road to Boston

Qualifying event: Marine Corps Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:36
6 attempts

Henry Fang
Tough road to Boston

Qualifying event: Goodlife Fitness Victoria 2016
Qualifying time: 3:17:52
2 attempts

Serge Fournier
Awesome road to Boston

Qualifying event: Ottawa Marathon
Qualifying time: 03:38:33
1st attempt

Alain Gilbert
Painful road to Boston

Qualifying event: Ottawa Marathon
Qualifying time: 3h 35m 55s
1st attempt
Instagram: agilbert314

Jaime Gutierrez
Committed road to Boston

Qualifying event: Cornwall Run to end MS
Qualifying time: 3:18:56
2 attempts

Patrick Hailstone-Hass
Exciting road to Boston

Qualifying event: Philadelphia Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:02:28
1st attempt
Twitter: Failstone
Instagram: Failstone

Malinda Ann Hill
Windy road to Boston

Qualifying event: Philadelphia Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:46:13
12 attempts
Twitter: MalindaAnnHill
Instagram: MalindaAnnHill

Steve Janzen
Unlikely road to Boston

Twitter: turkeys37
Qualifying event: Toronto Goodlife Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:25:15
13 attempts

Jason Kincaid
Cramping road to Boston

Qualifying event: Ottawa Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:14:44, needed 3:25
1st attempt
Twitter: jtriguy

Lewis Leclerc
Happy-to-have-finally-overcome-several-obstacles road to Boston

Qualifying event: Ottawa Marathon
Qualifying time: 4:01:23
3 attempts

Marie-Claude Leblond
Pregnant road to Boston

Qualifying time: 3h54
2 attempts

Bruce Lee
Sudden road to Boston

Qualifying event: 2016 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:15:38
1st attempt
Twitter: blee3x
Instagram: blee3x

Jason Lufkin
Determined road to Boston

Qualifying event: Eugene Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:02:06
2 attempts
Twitter: jayluf
Instagram: jayluf

Tracy Mann
Getting to know my capabilities on the road to Boston

Qualifying event: 2017 Erie Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:45:52
1st attempt

Helene Paradis
Incredible road to Boston

Qualifying event: Philadelphia marathon
Qualifying time: 3:20:24
5 attempts

Ileana Paul
Unplanned road to Boston

Qualifying event: Road2Hope 2016
Qualifying time: 3:43:48
1st attempt

Sarah Poplawski
Multisport road to Boston

Qualifying event: 2016 Baystate Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:32:45
11 attempts
Instagram: Fegirl66

Lucie Prince
Surprising road to Boston

Qualifying event: Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2016
Qualifying time: 3:56:34
2 attempts

Janet Pritchard
Long road to Boston

Qualifying event: 2017 BMO Vancouver Marathon
Qualifying time: 04:04:27
1st attempt

Katie Rainer
Emotional road to Boston

Qualifying event: GoodLife Toronto fitness marathon
Qualifying time: 3:31.18
1st attempt
Instagram: K8te30

Jennie Rauchfleisz
Challenging road to Boston

Qualifying event: Erie Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:50:11
1st attempt

Alexander Rekitsanov
Unexpected road to Boston

Qualifying event: Montreal Oasis 2016
Qualifying time: 2:57:36
1st attempt

Sunil Sharma
Captivating road to Boston

Qualifying event: 2016 Firenze (Florence )
Qualifying time: 3:02:39
8 attempts
Twitter: Sunildutt1975

Mike Simpson
Determined road to Boston

Qualifying event: GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon 2016
Qualifying time: 3:27:09
3 attempts

Jennifer Stolz
Uncertain road to Boston

Qualifying event: Road2Hope Hamilton, Ontario
Qualifying time: 3:58:27
2 attempts
Twitter: jennaes9

Luke Timms
Intoxicating road to Boston

Qualifying event: BMO Kelowna Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:08:36
4 attempts
Twitter: luke_timms

Kelly Vogt
Rough road to Boston

Qualifying event: 2016 Bellingham Bay Marathon
Qualifying time: 3:11:58
2 attempts

Jane Wallace
Fast road to Boston

Qualifying event: Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon 2016
Qualifying time: 3:57:55
1st attempt

Sebastian Warner
Ragged ass road to Boston

Qualifying event: 2017 Cornwall Run for MS
Qualifying time: 3:03:55
4 attempts
Twitter: sebwarner
Instagram: sebastianwarner

Emilie Whitson
Fractured road to Boston

Qualifying event: Road2Hope
Qualifying time: 3:29:04
3 attempts

[Congratulations to all 2018 Boston Marathon Qualifiers! Use promo code FIRSTBOSTON and get 25% off Long Road to Boston in eBook format! Redeem it here]