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Upper Valley runners make the most of preparations for postponed Boston Marathon

  • Hunter Dominick, a senior at Dartmouth College, set out on a run from his home in Hanover, N.H. to the top of Gile Mountain in Norwich, Vt., Saturday, April 18, 2020. Dominick had planned to make this year’s Boston Marathon the third marathon he has run, before COVID-19 forced its cancelation. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hunter Dominick, of Hanover, runs the Ballard Trail in Norwich, Vt., on his way to the top of Gile Mountain Saturday, April 18, 2020. Dominick had planned to run the Boston Marathon before the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancelation. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Matt and Hailey Swett, of Norwich, show off gold medals made by Hailey's younger sister, Ella, to commemorate the completion of their substitute Boston Marathon run in Norwich on Sunday, April 19, 2020. The Swetts would have been in Boston running for charity had the Boston Marathon not been postponed to September because of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Jim Burnett walks his dog Mookie on Monday, April 20, 2020, in Canaan, N.H., for what Burnett considers a recovery day after a fifteen-mile run over the weekend. Burnett would have run his 10th Boston Marathon on Monday. The race has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Jim Burnett of, Canaan, N.H., would have run his 10th Boston Marathon on April 20, 2020. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/20/2020 8:59:48 PM
Modified: 4/20/2020 8:59:44 PM

NORWICH — With no Boston Marathon on Monday, Hailey Swett went for a long run on Sunday. In a pink tutu.

The 18-year-old Norwich resident and her father Matt are among a complement of Upper Valley athletes who would have been striding down Boston’s Boylston Street to complete the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon. Those plans changed when Boston Athletic Association officials pushed the 26.2-mile run to September as a coronavirus precaution.

Many runners have tweaked their training accordingly. But the idea of running anyway — especially for a purpose — was too good for the Swetts to pass up.

“I think it was pretty much (decided) the day they announced the race was postponed to Sept. 14,” Hailey Swett said in a Monday morning phone interview. “We considered going down to Boston and doing the actual course with my aunt, but with how things unfolded with corona and everything, it was better to stay here. We made up this course and decided we were still going to do it right away.”

The biggest inconvenience to postponing the Marathon, which the BAA did on March 13, is it came in the midst of athletes’ late race training. Runners have adjusted.

Canaan’s Jim Burnett, 70, would have been doing his 10th Boston and his 57th marathon overall on Monday. He planned to be active, but not aggressively so.

“Being an older runner whose body is falling apart, I can only run three times a week and get away with it,” joked Burnett, the president of the Upper Valley Running Club. “I cross-train, walk, bike, hike, that sort of thing. What I’d been doing on Mondays recently is bicycling, so I’d probably be on the rail trail in the afternoon biking with my son and grandson.”

The business of working on his geography and German double-major kept Dartmouth College senior Hunter Dominick, 22, from being too concerned about missing out.

“I wasn’t too surprised,” Dominick said last week. “When the (Tokyo) Marathon got canceled and only the elites ran, then more and more events got canceled, people on the internet speculated that Boston would be next. It didn’t come as a shock, but I was still super disappointed.”

Most of the roughly 40,000 runners who take on Boston do so after meeting a qualifying time standard elsewhere. Dominick got his in Virginia Beach, Va., about a year ago; Burnett made the Boston field through a New York City Marathon effort in 2018. Those qualifications don’t expire just because Boston’s date changed.

Preparations, however, require an adjustment. Where Burnett and Dominick would have been tapering their mileage last week in advance of the race, both are thinking low-intensity maintenance for now until ramping up efforts and miles in a few weeks.

“I’m not really following a training plan now because it’s still too far away,” said Dominick, who competes on Dartmouth’s club triathlon team. “I’ll do a lot of base-building; a lot of that is because I enjoy it more. Just long, slow runs. I’ll do 15 miles at a moderate pace that feels good.”

It appears a lot of runners are putting their faith in the September date. BAA communications manager Chris Lotsbom said in a Monday email that fewer than 2,000 runners have asked for refunds. Athletes have until May 29 to commit to September or ask for their money back.

That’s a non-issue for the Swetts. Father and daughter were planning on running the Marathon for Silver Lining Mentors, a Boston-based charity involved with foster youth care, in the memory of Matt’s father and Hailey’s grandfather. Robert Swett died while running in 1992 at the age of 48, the same age Matt Swett is now.

The Swetts scouted an Upper Valley course that began and ended at the Norwich fire station (Matt is the town’s deputy fire chief) and “we tried to make it as not hilly as possible,” Hailey Swett said. Father and daughter looped about 12 miles through Hanover, did smaller circuits through Norwich, Wilder and White River Junction and closed by striding around Huntley Meadows before returning to the station.

The first responder community awaited them. A Hanover police car provided an escort through town. Fire departments in Hanover and Hartford greeted the Swetts with lights and sirens as they passed. Including occasional stops to rehydrate, father and daughter finished in a little less than 5 hours — and accidentally ran 27 miles, a tad longer than they would have in Boston.

“I was pretty surprised by how many people came out and made it an amazing day,” said Hailey Swett, whose attire reflected her training in ballet and modern dance. “It’s the best quarantine activity I’ve done so far.”

They’ll get to do it again — hopefully — this fall. Tutu optional, of course.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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