Elon alumna set to run second Boston Marathon
She was stopped less than a mile from the end of the 2013 Boston Marathon. Now, Kristin Feeney ’11 plans to cross the finish line to demonstrate the strength of both Boston and Elon – all while raising money for cancer research.
Kristin Feeney ’11 was four tenths of a mile from the finish of last year’s Boston Marathon when she hit a wall. Not the sort of physical or psychological wall a distance runner has to overcome in the homestretch – but a sea of people all stopped short as a horrific scene unfolded ahead.
“I had been crying for probably about two miles, just to let it out and keep going and to push myself, when a woman turned around and said to me, ‘You have to stop. There was a bomb. People are dead at the finish line,’” Feeney told The Magazine of Elon last summer. “They basically stopped everybody at (mile marker) 25.8 and safely corralled people who literally had no idea what was going on. I hit a wall of people.”
She later came to learn that three spectators were killed and more than 250 others were injured by the blasts.
It was Feeney’s first attempt at a marathon, and she was running the race as a tribute to her father.
“My dad had been diagnosed with cancer the summer prior and it was the only thing I could imagine that could pay tribute to his intense battle,” she says.
Like many people who were either touched by the bombing tragedy or kept from finishing last year’s race, Feeney is more determined than ever to complete the 2014 marathon.
“I planned to be a ‘one-and-done’ [marathon runner] but just couldn't settle for 25.8 out of 26.2 miles,” Feeney says. “In the days that have followed [last year’s marathon], my mission has taken on a new meaning. I am now running not just for all those affected by cancer, I am running to show how strong we are as a city. I also believe my journey embodies the impact Elon graduates are making all over the country. We are exceptionally determined, gritty people with a drive to do more than just stand idle.”
In fact, Feeney has already raised more than $6,600 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through donors who are supporting her run and the cause of cancer research. She’s leaned on the knowledge she’s making a difference for others to keep herself motivated to fight through a tough training schedule.
“I always remind myself that my training program, albeit 18 weeks long, is still shorter than my dad's first round of treatment,” Feeney says. “That's a pretty good piece of humble pie. My favorite phrase I like to repeat to myself is, ‘Cancer never takes a night off and neither should I.’”
Fortunately, Feeney’s father is recovering from his fight with cancer. She credits two fellow Elon alumnae – Riley Beetner '11 and Hillary Noble '11 – for encouraging her to turn anguish over her father’s initial cancer diagnosis into activities that could help others.
“When my dad got sick, they really inspired me to get past the grief and move into action,” Feeney says. “They made me realize that the Elon community had taught me to be strong and capable. We were ‘Elon Strong’ before anyone even coined buzz words like that.”
Being strong and serving others has always been important to the exercise science major, who also minored in public health and religious studies. At Elon, she participated in Alpha Phi Omega, Catholic Campus Ministry and led a Kernodle Center trip to Morocco. She went on to graduate from Boston University’s School of Public Health.
“My brick outside of the Martin Alumni Center says, ‘Be a leader. Be a friend. Be of service.’ It's the Alpha Phi Omega motto,” she says, “and, in many ways, a model I associate to Elon.”
Now, as she prepares to complete the Boston Marathon for the first time, she hopes others at Elon will draw inspiration from her and do something worthwhile to support someone else.
“It's amazing to see how passion can be contagious,” she says.
UPDATE: According to the official results, Feeney finished the 2014 Boston Marathon in a time of 4:41:23.