Students train for spring marathon

Leon Yang, Sports Writing Editor

Senior Jeremy Spiro runs around the Brookline Reservoir. PHOTO PROVIDED BY LEON YANG
Senior Jeremy Spiro runs around the Brookline Reservoir. PHOTO PROVIDED BY LEON YANG

It is a crisp Thursday afternoon in November, a time when the weather shifts from being mildly pleasant to bitterly cold. At the Brookline Reservoir, a few distant figures diligently run laps around the pond, alone or with a partner. These are members of the Dreamfar Club, and for them, it is time to begin training for something only approximately one percent of individuals have managed to complete: a marathon.

The prospect of accomplishing the seemingly insurmountable feat of running 26.2 miles intimidates many. However, the club fosters a welcoming environment in which runners are able to grow not only as athletes, but also as strong individuals.

This club is geared toward students who may have had little, or no running experience before joining, such as junior David Kim. He said he joined the club because he wanted to participate in an after school activity and his friends were members of the club.

Kim said running with the club has encouraged him to work more efficiently on schoolwork and distracts him from the bustling and sometimes overwhelming routine of high school.

“There were times when I got bad grades, and I didn’t really want to run. But after I ran, my mind was off school, and I felt better,” Kim said.

Members of the Dreamfar marathon club train all year long to run the Providence marathon. PHOTO PROVIDED BY MAYA PIKEN
Members of the Dreamfar marathon club train all year long to run the Providence marathon. PHOTO PROVIDED BY MAYA PIKEN

Another one of the 18 newcomers of the club is senior Gregory Williams. Williams plays hockey at a varsity level but has never done extensive running. However, the Dreamfar club enticed him.

“I really like that idea because it was kind of like, I can leave BHS knowing that I ran 26.2 miles,” Williams said.

Williams also said he enjoys the group dynamic of the club and the chemistry between different members. Runners support each other and do not chastise one another for not running as far, he said.

“It’s really not an environment where it’s strict rules. It’s taking what the runner does best and then building on it,” Williams said. “That’s kind of how progress works. You take what you do and take it one more step forward.”

Williams also said that the progression of training has taught him lessons that he has applied to his own life.

“It kind of told me when you finish something that’s hard, it’s always probably better to do something that’s more challenging because it’s always better to go beyond your limit,” Williams said.

Science teacher Elsbeth Leslie, who has served as the coach and adviser of the club for four years, said that a teacher from a different high school came up with the idea of starting a marathon club ten years ago.

“A teacher at Newton South was working with some of her students, and she herself was running a marathon and just looking at all the gifts it was giving her and the great things she was getting from it, and decided, ‘Wow, this would be really great for my students,’” Leslie said.

The club has since spread to the high school. Currently, the 28 members are training to run in the Providence marathon in the first weekend of May. Runners meet three times during the week. On Saturdays, they run with the 11 other schools that participate in the Dreamfar High School Marathon program, Leslie said.

According to Leslie, the club is flexible and allows students to participate in other programs that interest them.

“It just allows more flexibility for those students who want to do some different things,” Leslie said. “And it takes away the stress. There have been students who’ve done organized sports, and then come to us and say, ‘I love that I can run at the pace that I want to run at and there’s not that competition aspect.”

Runners begin a gradual progression in order to work toward their goal of running the marathon, Leslie said.

“The first couple of weeks we do a mile, and then we build up to a mile and a half, and then two, and then two and a half, and you keep going that way,” Leslie said.

Senior Shahar Ganani said that mentally preparing for the marathon is crucial. Ganani completed the Providence marathon last year and is currently in her second year on the club.

“Honestly, the only thing you need, not the biggest thing, the only thing you need is the will to want to do it,” Ganani said.

Ganani said that training to run a marathon should not be deterred by a lack of self-confidence; nor should a runner be hesitant to join because they are reluctant to run long distances.

“I managed to finish a marathon in a fairly okay time, after being at zero,” Ganani said. “So to anyone who tells me that ‘I can’t run,’ yeah, I couldn’t either, still really can’t. But I’m still doing it.”

In addition, Ganani recognizes that the process of training for a marathon has made her a stronger individual, and she has gained more confidence in herself to achieve anything she puts her mind to.

“It kind of teaches you that you can do anything,” Ganani said. “Like you did a marathon? Let’s conquer this test in chemistry!”

And perhaps that’s what the true intention of the Dreamfar Club is. According to Leslie, the message of the club is to instill in runners a sense of their full potential.

“It’s really the idea that through goal setting and having this great goal for a marathon, that you take it to an analogy in life that you can achieve and do anything,” Leslie said.

Leon Yang can be contacted at [email protected]