In this competition, Matthew Treat was perfectly happy placing 291st. In fact, he was happy just to get in the race.
A student in DMU’s physician assistant program and president of his class, Treat was among 26,907 runners to compete in the Boston Marathon in April. In addition to finishing in the top two percent among participants, he did so in two hours, 43 minutes and .03 seconds, shaving nearly 10 minutes off his time at the Des Moines Marathon last October. He also kept a steady pace, running the last five kilometers of the race in about the same time as the first five.
“The Boston Marathon was on my bucket list,” he says. “I wrote my name on my jersey, so it was great to hear people cheering on ‘Matt.'”
Qualifying for the world’s oldest annual marathon is tough, but the experience is unforgettable. The 26.2-mile course begins in rural Hopkinton, MA, then winds through six more towns and cities before Boston.
“It becomes more and more urban along the route. Near the end, you see the Prudential Building, one of the city’s tallest, so then you know you have two miles left,” Treat says.
Spectators made the race memorable, too. Treat passed partiers at a biker bar, accepted oranges from children and streaked through the so-called “scream tunnel,” a section lined by the women of Wellesley College. He also attempted to take drinks from fans without slowing his pace too much. “That was interesting,” he notes. “I got some Gatorade in my eye.”
At mile 20, Treat met a runner from Poland; they cheered each other over Heartbreak Hill, an 88-foot climb from beginning to end considered the race’s toughest challenge.
“You get to mile 24 and you feel terrible, but you’ve put so much time into it by then,” says Treat, who suffered a number of leg cramps. “After the race, I made the mistake of sitting down. I had to have someone help me up.”
That didn’t change the next item on his bucket list: competing in an Ironman, the grueling competition that combines a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile run.
“I like those challenges,” he says. “Medical school gets kind of crazy, so running is also good stress relief.”