Boston Virtual: Lederer, Haughey get by with a little help from their friends

Peter Lederer (center) and Joe Haughey (left) get support from Allyson Thompson (right) in Saturday's Boston Virtual Marathon in and around Tyler State Park.

Running race streaks are running race streaks and nothing is going to stop them – not injury, not illness and not even a global health crisis.

Especially when that running race streak involves the legendary Boston Marathon and the consecutive number of no-misses has reached 16.

So when the Boston Athletic Association first postponed and later canceled this year’s live event, “streakers’’ around the world, including Langhorne’s Peter Lederer, were left with a moment of doubt.

Then the BAA came up with a plan to allow long distance runners to compete in a “virtual’’ 26.2-miler, on a course of their own choosing, during the week of Sept. 7-14.

Lederer, along with fellow marathoner Joe Haughey, took the world’s most famous marathon up on its offer.

After mapping out a course in and around Tyler State Park plus the Newtown-Holland-Northampton-Richboro area, the duo took off bright and early this past Saturday morning. . .accompanied by various “segment’’ runners and bicyclist escorts.

All these friends were crucial in supplying support, including cheering sections, water stops and other supplies on the go.

And 3:22.46 and 3:24.14 respectively later, Lederer and Haughey crossed the finish line near the main pavilion along Neshaminy Creek in Tyler.

Family members even supplied an official-looking Boston Marathon finish line banner for Lederer and Haughey to break.

Mission accomplished.

For Lederer, the streak is now at 17.

The two men pushed the pace but it wasn’t like they were going all out. Lederer and Haughey are both sub-3:00 marathon runners, so this was almost like a training run.

The support of friends played a big role in this endeavor.

“I put out an email a week ago trying to round everybody up,’’ Lederer explained. “And you see how many people are here. We had 15 people at the start, bikes pacing us the whole way, people running with us, giving us water. Just an amazing amount of support. It felt like a real race.’’

With that in mind, the streak continues.

Now he needs only 44 more to catch the late, great John A. Kelley.

“I do (believe this continues the streak),’’ Lederer said. “Part of the reason for doing it is I have my streak going. So this counts, Boston recognizes it. I ran a qualifying time and even though it’s not official, to me it counts.’’

Conditions on Saturday morning were excellent. Cool, low humidity, not much breeze.

“I felt better than a normal marathon where we were racing,’’ Lederer said. “Joe and I trained and we said we were going to just run, not race. But I always had the mantra: ‘Respect the distance.’

“And so it’s still 26.2 miles and even if you’re jogging, it’s a long way to run. I kept that in mind. Late, I got a really good second wind. So I picked it up in the last five, six miles because I felt really good.’’

So good in fact that in the last two miles he was able to hold a conversation with one of his segment runners, Allyson Thompson, who ran the last 10 miles in support of her Bucks County Roadrunners Club teammates.

“I was running with Allyson and I said, ‘I’m not usually talking to anyone the last two miles of a marathon,’ ’’ Lederer said. “I was still comfortable enough to where we were talking.’’

Thompson, a three-hour marathoner herself, had no trouble keeping up and said she was glad to help.

“It was great, nice to give back and help out when I can,’’ she said. “I’m impressed that they did this virtual race and hung tough. Trained through the summer and actually finished it.’’

The Boston Marathon is usually held in late April, so the training months leading up to it are “no sweat.’’ This time, training was done in the sweltering heat of July and August. But early September is better than nothing, especially when that finisher’s medal arrives in the mail.

“I was in great shape going into April,’’ Lederer said. “Canceling, that was tough for everybody. It was such a hot and humid summer, it made it really hard to train.’’

Haughey, a Richboro resident who’s run 2:57 in a real Boston Marathon, also found the course, conditions and support to his liking.

“When Boston was canceled, I was a little bummed,’’ he said. “Pete wanted to do the virtual and at first I wasn’t going to do it. I was just going to support it. Then he talked me into it.

“We had a lot of people come out to support us. That was a blessing because it would be pretty hard just to run it on your own.’’


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About Wayne Fish 2070 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.