Wilmington runner to compete in Boston Marathon

Wilmington runner Drew Lavin competes in a race. (Photo provided)

WILMINGTON — Wilmington resident Drew Lavin just hit his 1,200-day streak of running, and he’s running with a purpose — Lavin is racing in his second Boston Marathon on Oct. 11 — his first one in person.

Lavin has been training for marathons for the last several years, and he said that qualifying for last year’s race was a milestone because the Boston Marathon is especially tough to get into. To qualify for the 26.2-mile race, a runner has to compete in a Boston-qualifying marathon under a certain time. Lavin is 42, and for men in his age group, the current qualifying time is 3 hours and 10 minutes. But a qualifying time only allows runners to apply for the race, not compete in it. The marathon only accepted 20,000 racers for the 2021 race, so if over 30,000 runners qualified, the marathon would have cut 10,000 qualified racers according to the longest race times.

Lavin qualified for the Boston Marathon at the 2019 Baystate Marathon in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he reached a personal record of 2 hours, 48 minutes and 10 seconds. He said the adrenaline of race day can accelerate a runner’s speed, and his performance that day surprised him.

“It was extremely exciting at that point. I had been trying to qualify for Boston for years, and I knew that I was in,” he said.

But in 2020 when COVID-19 hit, the Boston Marathon was reduced to a virtual race and rescheduled from April to September. Runners could compete on their own any time between Sept. 7 and 14.

Wilmington runner Drew Lavin competes in the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon. (Photo provided)

The Wilmington-Boston Marathon

At home, Lavin has a running routine; he wakes up without an alarm around 3:30, and he’s usually running before the sun comes up. He has a full-time job as a salesperson for United Rentals, but even though he pulls 10-hour workdays, he runs varied distances on the same loop around his neighborhood on Indian Rock Road every morning. Eventually, he figured out that five laps around that loop is 26.5 miles — just a little over a marathon’s distance. Lavin chose his neighborhood loop as the location for his first Boston Marathon since he was familiar with the local terrain and his routines, even though he said the route has “rolling hills” that aren’t typical to a marathon course.

To replicate race day at home, Lavin set up a water and nutrition station at his mailbox. He set water on top of the box and nutritional gels inside, which contain around 150 calories. As he lapped his house every 35 minutes or so, Lavin said that his wife, Betsy Kane, would come out to greet him and help him hydrate.

Kane has played a major role in her husband’s success as a runner.

“There’s no doubt that, without her encouragement and support, that I could have met my goals,” he said.

The couple just celebrated their first wedding anniversary, and Lavin said she supports and encourages his training even though running and racing require long hours of dedication every week. And last year, she got the community to cheer with her while Lavin ran his virtual Boston Marathon on Saturday, Sept. 5.

Lavin said his neighbors generally know him as the guy who runs in the vest each morning, and he has some friends along his loop who rooted for him from the end of their driveways. When Lavin saw an ambulance flashing its lights next to him during the race he got a little apprehensive, but he realized they were there to show support when the driver came over the loudspeaker to encourage him. He said it was nice to feel supported by his town during an isolating time.

In his first Boston Marathon in Wilmington, Lavin finished in about 3 hours and 2 minutes. But he said he wouldn’t run a virtual race again; with no buildup to race day, no pack to run with and no gun to sound off the race, Lavin said there’s no adrenaline to help you run faster.

“You just stand around and your wife says go, and you go,” he said.

The COVID Three

With the recent resurgence of COVID-19, the Boston Marathon has shifted their qualifying rules — for racers hoping to qualify for the 2021 or 2022 marathon, they could still submit qualifying races from September 2019 and forward. Normally, a runner can only use a qualifying time for 12 months. Lavin said his qualifying race at Baystate was just one month after that qualifying period began, in October 2019. He said he’s lucky, because he’s able to qualify for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Boston Marathons from one 2019 qualifying time. He’s calling the three races his “COVID Three.” Next year, the marathon is due to return to its usual date in April.

It runs in the family

Lavin has a couple of motivators that have led him to the Boston Marathon: his dad and his mental and physical health.

Lavin’s dad was a runner when he was younger, but he never qualified for the Boston Marathon. He’s 73 now, and Lavin said he wanted to carry out his dad’s dream because they’re close.

“I wanted to do it for him and myself as well,” he said.

Lavin grew up watching his dad run, and his dad coached his church track team when he was less than 10 years old. He said that because of how his dad normalized marathons and races, Lavin was competing in 5ks by the time he was 12 or 13. Lavin said he finally beat his dad’s personal marathon record with his own personal record at the 2019 Baystate Marathon.

Though Lavin’s dad introduced him to running at a young age, Lavin said his dedication to daily training and competition didn’t flourish until his early 30s. He said he’d reached a tumultuous point in his life, and when he picked up running again, the physical and mental benefits were so substantial that he just kept running.

“As you get older, life becomes more stressful and complicated, and having a way to hit the pause button on that and have time to reflect and put yourself in a positive mental state every day is a big positive for me, and probably most other runners,” he said.

When he first started running again, he hardly considered racing. He said he was running around Mirror Lake about 10 years ago and guessed that the loop was close to three miles — about the length of a 5k. After that he joined a 5k in Albany with one plan: to run as fast as he could. He wanted to finish in under 20 minutes, and he crossed the finish line at 19 minutes and 20 seconds. Lavin said he felt empowered to move on to 10k races. Once he did well in those, he moved on to the Lake Placid Classic Halfmarathon, which he ran twice. After finishing the second race in 1 hour and 21 minutes, he decided he’d train for a marathon.

He’s been training for marathons for around five or six years now. In addition to his daily morning runs, Lavin and his dog Mischief join the ADK Run Club for weekly trail runs.

Lavin said he’ll run the 2022 Boston Marathon, but he might compete in an ultramarathon, too. But this year, he said he’s looking forward to getting that Boston Marathon bib.