Bucks runners: Boston Marathon better late than never

Lisa (Heffner) Kuliczkowski ran the 2018 Chicago Marathon, shown here, to qualify for Monday’s Boston Marathon.
      It might not be running this year on the traditional Patriots Day third Monday in April date, but the Boston Marathon promises to still be special when the leaves are turning color.
      Because of the pandemic, the iconic event has been moved to tomorrow after it was shelved for a second straight year back in the spring.
      Although there will be a lot of travel restrictions and safety protocols in place, Boston is Boston and tens of thousands of runners are anticipated.
      It doesn’t really matter when America’s most prestigious marathon is held, as long as it can carry on the tradition begun way back in 1896.
      Lisa (Heffner) Kuliczkowski, a 1983 Council Rock High School graduate, has been looking forward to this day for a long time.
      She qualified for Boston three years ago when she ran the Chicago Marathon. She’s had plenty of time to fine-tune her training and get ready for this most famous 26.2-miler through the suburbs of Boston, followed by a spectacular finish downtown.
       Actually, holding Boston in the fall might not be such a bad thing. Runners don’t have to train in the winter months and run in snow and freezing cold.
       “I personally find it much easier to train in the heat,” said Kuliczkowski, 56, who is aiming to run in the 3:35 range. “I’m not a cold weather person. So this is perfect for me.”
       Kuliczkowski ran both cross country and track at CR, took a long break after a year of running at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and then resumed about five years ago. It didn’t take long for her to get her running mojo back and now she’s competing in marathons and triathlons.
       Getting to Boston is quite an accomplishment.
       “Before Chicago I never dreamed of running a marathon,” she said. “(Coach) Pat (McCloskey) talked me into it. I thought he was crazy that I could qualify for Boston. I did do the work, it seemed to last forever because Boston seemed to get pushed back time and time again. I have become smarter. I had no idea what I was doing in Chicago. I ran New York and went out too fast. I’ve really learned a lot from those two races.”
       Kuliczkowski recently won her age group at the Philadelphia Distance Run last month so all signs point to a good race at Boston.
       “We came up here in August and I ran the last 11 miles to the finish to see what the hills were like,” said Kuliczkowski, who trains in hilly Tyler State Park/Newtown. “One of my old coaches, Cliff Robbins, told me if you train in Tyler you can run anywhere.”
       Meanwhile, Boston veteran Pete Lederer of Langhorne will be running in his 18th consecutive Beantown classic. He kept his streak alive by doing a virtual Boston last year in and around Tyler,
      Just getting to live racing will be a pleasing experience regardless of the weather or certain restrictions.
      The weather in April seems to have become more difficult each year,’’ Lederer said. “It’s tough to train in the cold of February and March only to have it be warmer and humid on race day in April. This year will be the opposite. Training was difficult in the heat of July and September but race day will be nicer than training weather.’’
      Like the big three races in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Distance Run, Broad Street and the Philadelphia Marathon), runners will have to provide proof of vaccination at Boston.
      The marathon has strict health and safety protocols in place this year,’’ Lederer said. “First thing I had to do was show proof of vaccination or negative COVID test. They put a wrist band on us when we complete that step and then I could proceed to pick up my bib number. Masks were also mandatory for the expo which was scaled down considerably.’’
      Logistically, race officials are doing the best they can at the crowded starting line, given the health rules.
      “On race day I will take the bus to the start line and will wear the mask on the bus and in the starting corrals until the race starts,’’ Lederer said. “It will be a rolling start so while I’ll miss the fun and excitement of the national anthem and the anticipation of the starting gun, the rolling start will also be nice as I think it will be less crowded. They say when we get off the bus we can stretch and use the facilities and take our time and when we are ready we just go to the start line and go.’’
      All in all, it should be a new experience, and with Boston returning to April again next year, probably a one-time affair at that.
      “I am always excited to run Boston,’’ Lederer said, “but this definitely feels more exciting since it’s been a long time between in-person races.’’
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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.