Boston Marathon sign
Community | 4/3/2024

The MCPHS Community and the 128th Boston Marathon

By Jennifer Persons

The finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Boston Marathon sign
The finish line of the Boston Marathon.

From racing to volunteering to participating in other BAA festivities, the MCPHS Community will put its best foot forward at the marathon.

Every year, the Boston Marathon brings people together from around the world to celebrate the tradition and the triumph of the historic race. Meet a few members of the MCPHS Community who are getting involved with this year’s Boston Marathon festivities.

Chrylann Lewis with her medals

Running for a Reason

In the last five years, Chrylann Lewis (previously Barrett), MPH ’21, BSN ’18, has gone from going on short runs to maintain her physical fitness to completing all the Abbott World Marathon Majors, the six most renowned marathons in the world.

“My running community has shown so much support, and I’m thankful for it,” she said. “I’m grateful that I’m healthy and able to do this and show other women and young girls that nothing can stop them.”

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) invited Lewis to run this year’s marathon, taking place on April 15. This race marks her fourth time tackling the 26.2-mile course, starting in Hopkinton and ending on Boylston Street, just two miles away from the MCPHS Boston campus.

“I never thought I would run the Boston Marathon,” she said. “I’ve been blessed to be healthy and strong, and I can do it, so why not? It’s also an opportunity to raise money for charities that mean a lot to me.”

In 2019, Lewis was on a jog through the golf course in Franklin Park when a woman named Katonya Burke, who was also running, approached her. Burke is now one of Lewis’ closest friends, introduced her to the local chapter of Black Girls Run, an organization that encourages and motivates Black women to support each other as they maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“She completely opened my world,” Barrett recalled. “I didn’t know how to break into this space until I became a part of Black Girls Run. It is so important that we are representing and saying if I can do it, you can do it too.”

Over the last five years, Lewis’ involvement in the running community has skyrocketed. She hosts group runs and recruits new members for Black Girls Run. She attends workouts with other Boston-based running organizations. She travels the world, completing the biggest and most famous marathons alongside her closest friends and with her family cheering her on.

In 2022, she ran the Boston Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and Berlin Marathon in Germany.

In 2023, she ran the Boston Marathon, then the London Marathon six days later, and the New York City Marathon in November.

This year, Lewis has already run the Tokyo Marathon and the Selma to Montgomery Relay Race, retracing the 51-mile journey of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In November, she’ll join a large group of friends at the Every Woman’s Marathon in Savannah, Georgia.

Lewis’ goals for Boston and every other race she tackles are simple: finish upright and have a good time.

“It’s not about being fast or having the best pace,” she said. “It’s about accomplishing a goal for yourself and knowing you did it. It gives you so much pride and so much self-respect.”

Two women standing in front of cups at the Boston Marathon.

Fueling Up at Mile 8

As Boston Marathon runners leave Framingham and enter Natick, they will be greeted by 25 Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students from MCPHS, handing out water and Gatorade.

“At that point, all the runners are still excited, and they’re not too tired yet, so it’s a lot of fun,” said Caitlin Cogan, DPT ’25. This will be Cogan’s third year volunteering at the Boston Marathon and her second coordinating the group of volunteers from MCPHS.

“I love the energy of the race and watching all the runners come through,” said Courtney Schoeplein, DPT ’25, volunteering for the second year in a row. “It’s also a good bonding experience for the community. Everybody’s smiling, cheering, and having a good time.”

The volunteers at the Mile 8 hydration stop work from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Their job is to fill thousands of paper cups with water and Gatorade, then stand along the course holding a cup, ready for a thirsty runner to grab. This process is neither smooth nor clean.

“The first year I volunteered, I was on the Gatorade side, and it was so sticky,” Cogan said, laughing at the memory. “I’ve chosen water ever since.”

“Still, we get covered in water,” Schoeplein added. “Some people even wear rain boots to keep their shoes dry.”

By the early afternoon, when the runners have passed, volunteers use rakes to clear the discarded cups off the street. Though neither are runners, Cogan and Schoeplein are excited to return to Mile 8 and cheer on this year’s runners.

“It’s a fun experience with everyone coming together and all the excitement,” Cogan said. “Anyone thinking about volunteering should absolutely try it out.”

Bob Cargill finishing Boston Marathon

A 16th Boston Marathon

Bob Cargill got the running “bug” as a kid, racing his brother and sister on the streets of Franklin, Mass., while their dad timed them with a stopwatch. That bug bite has never gone away.

“Running has been my outlet, my opportunity to get out there and compete,” he said.

Cargill, who teaches Principles of Marketing at MCPHS, will undertake his 16th Boston Marathon this year. It will also be his 10th year raising money for Christopher’s Haven, a nonprofit organization founded in Boston that provides accommodations for families while children receive cancer treatment.

“Running for charity is motivating and makes the race more meaningful. I can give back in exchange for the opportunity to run,” Cargill said. Even when he receives a bib from the Greater Framingham Running Club, of which he has been a member for about 25 years, he still raises money for charity.

“It keeps me going and inspires me, especially through the tough winter training days,” he added. “I get out there and feel like I’m doing something important.”

Cargill runs almost every single day, ramping up the miles as the marathon gets closer. And even though he’s trained for the Boston Marathon many times before, he still gets the pre-race butterflies.

“I’m always anxious to get to the starting line, worried about something happening between now and the start. But once I get started, I’m not worried at all, and it becomes a challenge of how fast I can go the 26.2-mile distance.”

The challenge, the cause, and the crowds of the Boston Marathon keep Cargill coming back year after year.

“It’s the excitement of the crowds cheering you on, the feeling of accomplishment when you’re finished, and the incredible show of humanity. Nothing beats it.”

Joseph Evola running

Making Running Fun

Boston Marathon activities extend beyond the 26.2-mile race on Patriots’ Day. The Saturday before the marathon, the BAA hosts a 5K, a 3.1-mile race through the city. Joseph Evola, PharmD ’28, will be one of 10,000 runners participating this year.

“I’m looking forward to having a good time with my boyfriend and my friends, crossing the finish line, and seeing people happy,” he said.

Evola ran cross country and track in high school. When he came to MCPHS, he took a break from running but restarted this past year. He joined the Running Club, a student organization on the Boston campus.

“The running culture here is alive and active and fun to be a part of,” Evola said. “My favorite place to run is the Esplanade. There are always people running there, even if the weather is bad.”

The Boston 5K will be Evola’s first official race since high school. While his main goal is to have fun, he also hopes this is only the beginning of this new chapter of running.

“I’m running a half marathon a few weeks after the 5K. At this rate, I hope to run my first marathon in the next two years, and if I can keep up with it, I would like to do all six of the World Marathon Majors. That would be so cool.”

Through his journey, he also hopes to encourage more people to try running.

“It doesn’t matter how fast or how far you go, if you run, you are a runner,” Evola said. “Most runners are very welcoming, so don’t be afraid.”