It was a picture-perfect finish. Holding hands and short of breath, lifelong friends Katie Rohn '14 and Annie Oppenheim '15 crossed the finish line in Central Park on Sunday after having started the New York City Marathon over four hours earlier. Rohn and Oppenheim, both inexperienced marathon runners, raced through all five New York City boroughs along with more than 45,000 other runners, including Audrey Sherman '14.
The New York City Marathon, which spans 26.2 miles, takes anywhere from two to six hours to complete. This year's marathon was particularly notable due to the blistering times posted by the lead runners in the men's and women's races. Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya shattered the men's course record, finishing in 2:05:06, while the time set by Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia was less than a minute off the women's course record.
Rohn and Oppenheim completed the course in four hours and six minutes, and Sherman, who battled a knee injury during the race, came in at four hours and 39 minutes. By running the marathon, Oppenheim, Rohn and Sherman each raised approximately $4,000 for the charity Team for Kids, an organization that provides health and fitness programs to underprivileged children, according to its website.
The three friends are newcomers to long-distance running. While Rohn and Oppenheim both call themselves athletic, they only recently began training for marathons.
"I never did track or anything," Rohn said. "I swam all throughout high school and did ice hockey. I was surprised with myself by how much the training just helped. In the beginning, six miles seemed impossible, but by the end that was like a shorter run. It was pretty cool."
Oppenheim began running long distances after she contracted mono last winter and stopped playing ice hockey. She said she enjoys long-distance running "because anyone can do it." Sunday's race was her second marathon.
"I ran one last year during senior year," Oppenheim said, referring to the Lower Potomac River Marathon in March. "I signed up for the New York City Marathon the day after. I wanted to play a sport [at Dartmouth], but it didn't end up working out. This gives me something to work towards and it's fun to have goals."
Oppenheim said she easily convinced Rohn to train for the marathon.
"Annie had already decided to do it and I really wanted something to train for because I had just quit my sports team," Rohn said. "I wanted to have a goal."
Rohn then convinced Sherman, her freshman-year roommate, to attempt the challenge as well.
To train, the friends ran about five times per week and included one long run in their weekly regimen. Beginning with a six-mile run, they increased the length of the long run each week. They completed their training three weeks before the marathon with a 20-mile run, and then rested in preparation for the race.
"We didn't have a very intense training schedule, but it actually worked out fine because we had a good [athletic] base," Oppenheim said. The trio stressed that running with each other made the marathon easier to tackle.
"Katie was really awesome," Oppenheim said. "We grew up playing different sports so we have different athletic mentalities. With her background in swimming, she was really good at working through the pain at the end of the race. I actually think we did our last three miles at our fastest pace."
Like many other runners, Rohn, Oppenheim and Sherman wore singlets sporting their names across their front and back. Spectators lining the course yelled supportive cheers such as "Go Annie O."
"The greatest part, I thought, was the cheering," Rohn said. "It was so awesome hearing your name from the fans. It made for a really happy, motivating atmosphere."
Rohn and Oppenheim both said the feeling of crossing the finish line was "amazing."
"We were in a good amount of pain, but at the point where we didn't feel it anymore," Rohn said. "It was so personal with so many people in Central Park."
Oppenheim added that Rohn "was really pushing me."
"I got really tired at mile 22," Oppenheim said. "We held hands and sprinted through and as soon as we stopped our legs were jello. Even though it's four whole hours, it doesn't feel that long. I can't really explain it."
The runners said they hope to continue running marathons in the future.
"I'm so psyched on them," Oppenheim said. "I definitely want to do New York again next year and I want to qualify for Boston. You need a 3:40 time so we need to step up our training, but I think it's possible. I wouldn't be surprised if I did one more in between [Boston and New York]."
Sherman did not respond to requests for comment by press time.