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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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Photo provided by Matt Conlon




This Patriot’s Day, or as Bostonians say, “Marathon Monday,” half a million inebriated people gather to cheer on runners in the 116th Boston Marathon. On April 16, one of UMass Boston’s own, Matthew Conlon, will be running the grueling 26.2-mile course, taking on this great challenge for an even greater cause.

A junior environmental science major, Conlon is running as part of a ten-person charity team, each of whom chooses a hospital to help.  Conlon has raised over $6,000 for the Dana Farber/ Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center portion of Weymouth’s South Shore Hospital. “I chose to donate to the Cancer Center,” he explained, “because I have volunteered there since it opened a few years ago. I go there once a week and play acoustic guitar music to patients in the chemotherapy rooms.”  He has decided to attempt his first-ever marathon in support of the cause he has long witnessed up close.

Conlon said, “I’ve always thought that the marathon would be the ultimate test of my body and mind.” He is running 40 to 45 miles per week, spread among several runs of three to eight miles and one longer, 12 to 22 miles.   He ran the 22-miler once, a few weekends ago, and said, “It was tough, but if I could survive that I know I can make it through the marathon.”

The Boston Marathon starts in Hopkinton, continuing through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and ends in Copley Square. “My favorite part is going to be going through the town centers of Natick and Wellesley, as well as the beginning of the course, which is rural and woodsy,” Matt said. He added, “I think it goes without saying that the most difficult part of the course is going to be the hills in Newton. I’ve only run them once, and it was not a pleasant experience.” The Newton hills begin at mile 16, a series of ascents and descents that culminate in what is known as “Heartbreak Hill.” This is the most strenuous point in the marathon, where muscle glycogen stores are likely depleted, and runners often slow to a stop known as “hitting the wall.”

Conlon isn’t too worried, though. He said, “Since it’s my first marathon, I’m going to try and take it easy and just enjoy the course.” The course continues down Commonwealth Avenue into Kenmore Square where thousands of Sox fans wait to encourage runners after the Red Sox game, which has been scheduled at home since 1959 (and since 1968, at 11 a.m.) so that fans can join the Boston Marathon celebration. The race ends in Copley Square on Boylston Street next to the Boston Public Library Conlon’s target time for the race is between 3:00 and 3:20.

UMass Boston students have a holiday on Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the first battles of the Revolutionary War and the beginning of our country’s independence.  So, instead of just wasting the day getting wasted, find a spot along the course to cheer on UMass Boston’s own Matthew Conlon, as he embarks on the challenge.  You can track the race on Boston.com.

The Marathon is the best annual event in Boston, and this race is looking like it’ll be something special. Last year Geoffrey Mutai set the world record (2:03:02), and Ryan Hall ran the fastest American marathon time in history. Watching these two duke it out would be well worth the price of admission, even if there were one.