Meet the Samaritans 2020 Marathon Team (Part 1)

The Samaritans 2020 Boston Marathon team is off to a three photos of people smilingrecord-breaking start, with more than $113,000 raised toward our team goal of $180,000 and 94 days to go! The 14 dedicated runners on this team are loss survivors, volunteers, and folks who have benefited from our programs and services. Each month leading up to the big day, we’ll be highlighting members of our outstanding team. This month, Amanda, Avery, and Callie share their experiences preparing for the 2020 Boston Marathon.

Everyone on the team this year is running in memory of a loved one lost to suicide. Could you share a story about the person you are running for? 

Amanda: What I remember from my short time with my dad is that he was always “there.” He was there for every softball game, picked me up every day from school, and taught me how to drive a car. While he may not physically be there now, he’s made such an impact on my life since his death. He unknowingly taught me how to cope with loss, how to be independent, and most importantly, the value of family. While he may not physically be there for life’s new milestones, he taught me valuable life lessons.

Avery: Although I was very young when my aunt passed, I have one slight memory from when I was a child. Back in the summer of 2006, not long before she passed, I remember taking a trip to Martha’s Vineyard with our families. I remember her giving my sister, my cousin (her daughter), and I these matching My Little Pony dolls. We were so excited to get these toys because My Little Pony was our favorite thing at the time. This memory is small, but it is essentially the only thing I remember about my aunt besides what other people tell me. Since her passing, my family has gone to Martha’s Vineyard every year on July 10th to commemorate her death. We even got a memorial brick with her name on it at the base of the Martha’s Vineyard lighthouse, which we visit every time. I find it comforting that the most distinct memory I have of her is at the same place we go to each year to celebrate her life.

Callie: I’m running in memory of my big brother Kevin, who I lost almost 20 years ago to suicide. As time goes by, I feel like some of my memories are slipping away but one thing that I will never forget is his heart. He was always looking out for everyone around him, he was kind in a quiet manner, he was thoughtful, and he was protective (which might be my favorite memory). I’m the youngest child in my family, and have three older brothers (Ryan, Kevin, and Conor). Growing up, I may have led everyone around me to believe I hated being the only girl, but in reality I loved it! In being the youngest and the only girl, you can imagine how it would go when a boy would call my house, or if I was going to the movies with a group of friends and boys were included. Let’s just say my brothers took great pride in embarrassing me. A few days before Kev passed, one of my friends, who happened to be a boy, called me. I remember Kev sitting outside my door listening to our conversation. I was unaware of this. He popped his head in when I was hanging up so that the person on the other end of the phone knew I had a big brother who was there to be intimidating. Then, he continued to grill me for hours on who this person was. He was obnoxiously protective somedays, but I would do anything to have him still be here to be driving me crazy!

What helps motivate and push you through the toughest moments of your training?

Amanda: My biggest motivation is my family. Throughout all the early mornings, unpredictable weather, and just outright challenging long runs, I am constantly reminded that this is not just my story to represent, but our story. As I represent my family throughout fundraising and training, it is constant reminder in the back of my head to make my mom, siblings, and family proud.

Avery: When I reach the hardest points in my training, I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to run. Even on the hardest days, I am grateful for my physical health. Running a marathon is not something many people do at 18 years old. Thinking about how running this marathon is helping to raise awareness for mental health is reason enough for me to push through the tough trainings.

Callie: As you can imagine, training for a marathon is not easy – it’s physically taxing, and mentally and emotionally draining. Finding the motivation to get out there and hit the pavement is challenging and, I’m not going to lie, I got off to a slow start this year. But, I have been able to get out there because of the why. I’m running in memory of my brother, I’m running for my own mental health, I’m running to eliminate the negative stigmas around suicide and mental health, and I know that because I’m running, lives will be saved. If that isn’t going to motivate me, I don’t know what will! I’m also fortunate that I have the love and support of my family and friends who are constantly checking in on me and sending me their support from near and far.

How is training in a New England winter?

Amanda: Cold and dark…but I promise you get used to it! As this is my second year running Boston for Samaritans, I’ve stocked up on my winter gear and the cold weather somehow gets easier and easier to run in every week. We’ve even been lucky enough to have some 50 degree Saturdays this year to make the long runs easier. I like the variety of weather throughout training so you’re ready for whatever race day throws at you!

Avery: Training in the New England winter is tough, but not impossible. I’m a ski racer so fortunately, the cold weather doesn’t bother me too much. Sometimes, I do find it tough to get a good run in before the sun sets. Trying to find time after school, but before the 5:00 p.m. sunset, to get my run in can sometimes be tricky.

Callie: Wild! You really never know what you are going to get! This year we’ve seen temperatures in the teens all the way to 70 this past weekend, which was nuts, but very welcomed! I think it’s best to expect the unexpected as you may be forced to train in anything from freezing temps and snow, to unseasonably warm and humid.

What is your go-to running song on your playlist?

Amanda: My current go-to running song is “I Still Can’t Stop” by Flux Pavilion. It’s message is simple and to the point: don’t stop. Also helps that it has a catchy beat. When music doesn’t do the trick, I enjoy putting on inspirational speeches. Eric Thomas’ “Everybody Wants to be a Beast” speech has gotten me through a few of the long runs lately.

Avery: My go-to song might have to be “Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight” by Macklemore. It’s one of the less popular songs by Macklemore but I think it’s truly underrated. I find that this song is best when running up a long, steady hill and pushes me to make it to the top.

Callie: I have a few different playlists, and they range from country songs, to R&B, to pop – my taste is all over the place and the variety helps me push forward. I honestly don’t think I could pick one song, so I’ll pick one artist – anything from Justin Timberlake is going to be bring a smile to my face, and help me kick it up a notch!

How do you think you will feel crossing the finish line in April?

Amanda: Amazing!! My family and best friends are flying in from Texas and I can’t wait to see them all at the finish line and have them experience what Patriots’ Day is all about.

Avery: I’m anticipating that I’ll feel a sense of extreme euphoria when crossing the finish line in April. I can only imagine how gratifying it will feel to finally reach the end goal of this training. Seeing the faces of thousands of runners and spectators swarming the streets of Boston will be unbelievable. I think that after crossing the finish line I’ll be at a loss for words for what I am experiencing because the Boston Marathon so incredible.

Callie: Honestly, I’ll be exhausted- and not just physically, more mentally than anything; if you haven’t noticed there is a theme here! I find running to be therapeutic, it’s my emotional outlet, so crossing that finish line, I’ll be filled with so many different emotions – glad that’s it’s over, proud of myself for doing it again, and thankful for the love and support of my family and friends. When you work so hard for something for so long, it’s a bittersweet ending, so I’ll be beaming with pride, excited that I can sleep in on Saturday mornings, but I’ll also be bummed that it’s all over.

To support the 2020 Marathon team and learn more about each runner’s story, please visit our team’s CrowdRise page.

Leading up to the big day, the runners are hosting a number of fundraisers which can be found on the Upcoming Events section of our homepage.

Our Marathon Team is raffling off two incredible trips for a photo safari in South Africa. You can enjoy the trip of a lifetime and be amazed by the beautiful nature and majestic animals that South Africa has to offer. Find more details and purchase a ticket