BAR HARBOR — This year’s Boston Marathon wasn’t what anyone in New England expected. It also was an experience few who competed in the 122nd running of the race will ever forget.
New England weather has denied Boston Marathon contestants warm, sunny days of running in the past, but this time was different. As one Mount Desert Island runner could attest, the cold, windy, rainy conditions made the 26-mile trek even more grueling than usual for the race’s 25,000-plus runners.
“There were people wearing layers on top, fleece-lined tights or whatever else you could think of, and it still didn’t seem like enough at times,” Bar Harbor’s Melissa Ossanna said.
Ossanna was one of three island finishers at the Boston Marathon. The others were Rebeccah Geib of Bar Harbor and Michael Westphal of Cranberry Isles.
Geib, 29, completed the race in 3 hours, 29 minutes, 1 second to finish 46th among all Maine finishers and 7,664th overall. Her time was in the top third of both respective categories.
Ossanna, 48, finished in 4:20:42, and Westphal, 60, did so in 4:26:56. Although Ossanna had run many marathons before, crossing the finish line this time was a different task altogether.
“I started cramping around mile 17,” she said. “It’s a hard balance. If you run, it’s painful, but if you slow down to walk, your body becomes much colder.”
As a result of the weather, finishing times were as high as they’ve been in decades. The combination of rain and cold in particular also put runners at risk of hypothermia.
“I’d dropped out from marathons twice in the past because of deep hypothermia, and I didn’t want that to happen again,” Ossanna said. “I was happy just to finish.”
Folks throughout MDI tracked the three runners via their bib numbers throughout the race. Ossanna said she and the other island runners got many messages of support before, during and after their runs.
“We’re a tight-knit running community both here on the island and throughout Maine, really,” Ossanna said. “It was great to see how many people were supporting us and following us.”
Reaching the finish line was one of Ossanna’s most rewarding marathon experiences. Even if the journey there was a challenging one, she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“It was insanity, but we were all embracing the insanity together and letting it unify us,” Ossanna said. “If we were going to do this, we might as well do it and laugh.”