Austin’s Meg Hare celebrates finishing her “virtual” Boston Marathon in Marathon, Texas

Every year thousands of runners train their butts off in the hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Though the qualifying times are attainable by above average runners, it’s a meaningful badge of recognition to gain entry, and a downright celebration of running once you get up to Boston.

When the pandemic canceled last April’s Boston Marathon, race organizers pushed the date back to September 14, and ultimately went “virtual” with a run date any time between September 5th and 14th.

Runners are known for their resiliency, and sure enough, quite a few Austin Boston-qualifier runners celebrated this weekend by running 26.2 miles and submitting their times to make it official.

Frank Livaudais, a 2:54 marathoner who has run 229 marathons and counting made it a point to get his Boston done, and then some.

“I was cautiously optimistic but really didn’t think they’d be able to run a 20k+ person-race in 2020,” said Livaudais. “Especially as the number of cases expanded, and as a country we couldn’t seem to just wear masks like other countries.  Boston is such a fun, but hard course. I always look forward to running it and also dread it a little. It is a challenging course that I really like. I like going out hard in the beginning and seeing how long I can hold on before the back half beats me up. The crowd is like no other race, so it was a big disappointment to not get to run it.  I’ve run Boston 16 times and will probably go back every year that I qualify for it, but that’s been getting harder and harder for me as I get older and slower.”

This past week, Livaudais headed to Montana where he and his wife Shelley are looking at possibly getting a condo. “I was looking to do a bunch of hiking,” said Livaudais. “The weather was also a factor and the timing of the virtual Boston made sense to go up there during that week.”

Livaudais flew in last Sunday, September 6, and ran his first virtual Boston on Tuesday morning.  “I had no real course mapped out—I just knew I was going to run around the town until my GPS got to 26.25 and then stop,” he said. “The weather was high 30s, low 40s, so it wasn’t that bad.”

If you know Frank, one marathon is never enough…

“I had a hard time sleeping Thursday night and so I got up around 5:00 a.m. on Friday morning and decided to run another virtual Boston,” said Livaudais. “It was pitch black and I had a flight at noon, so I drove to a track I had found earlier in the week and ran 105 laps around it.  I ran the second marathon nine minutes faster than on Tuesday, but my legs were really tired.  I had run about 80 miles that week, which is really a lot for me (maybe 60% more miles than normal) and had also hiked 20-25 miles up and down mountains around Whitefish, Montana. My hip flexors are pretty trashed after this week!”

“I miss running with people the most, having a closed course laid out for you with aid stations and people to chase,” added Livaudais.  “I’ve run a good number of marathons across the world and I have worn the same jersey for at least the last 150 marathons so in almost every race someone comes up to me that I ran with in the past and we get to catch up and talk about previous runs. I really enjoy the classless camaraderie where you can run with a CEO and a janitor and nobody cares about your race, age, job or gender we all just want to run as well as we can that day.”

Sean Lilley’s 26.2 took place in neighborhoods around southwest Austin. Lilley, a 2:57 marathoner was training moderately for the April race and once it was moved to September, he backed off a bit.

“As soon as it was clear it would be virtual, I fell back into minimal training mode with the summer heat,” said Lilley. “The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) sent out a mobile app that you use throughout the virtual week.  You can either use the app to time yourself, connect it with another online service, or use it to manually enter in your time.  I ended up connecting it to my Garmin profile and submitted my time from there.”

“I decided to keep it real simple for my ‘race’ and stay close to home.  I was able to put out some sports drinks, dry clothes if needed, and do a few loops around the neighborhood.  I ran a larger loop first while traffic was minimal then two shorter loops trying to avoid busy intersections (13,8,5 miles).  I was cursing the hills a bit in the second half but saved enough energy at the beginning to finish relatively strong clocking a 3:30. I really missed the overall energy of the City of Boston on that weekend. Sitting on my back porch with a celebratory beer just wasn’t the same as swapping war stories with your buddies at Clery’s (restaurant and bar) and having complete strangers congratulate you all afternoon.”

Meg Hare and friends may have topped all other Austin-area runners in the way they celebrated their virtual Boston. Hare, a 3:08 marathoner, trained all the way up until cancellation, and then took it easy and half-way trained. It was a hot summer, so her longest long run was only 16 miles.

Hare, along with Austin’s Mac Allen and Chris Neugebauer, headed out to the city of Marathon in West Texas and ran the Marathon2Marathon (M2M) course.

“I was just out here to have fun,” commented Hare of her 4:25 time. “We all love Marathon and thought it would be fun to run virtual Boston out here. Plus, I won M2M way back in the day, so good memories!”

Hare and company had family and friends supporting them with water and such. Like all runners, she misses running with a group and spending time with running friends.

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