Back in April 2012, I watched my very first Boston Marathon as a fan and remember cheering as the runners reached the top of Heartbreak Hill at Mile 21, just near the Boston College campus. The energy was unlike anything I had ever felt – the entire city had shut down to line the marathon route, shouting words of support and encouragement and waving signs through the air. It wasn’t just a race, it was a celebration and everyone – the volunteers, the spectators and the runners – was so proud to be there.
By April 15, 2013, I had already fallen deeply in love with Boston and had fully embraced it as my home away from home. I felt connected to the city, the people I’d met here, and after a freshman year of not knowing how long I’d last so far away from where I grew up, I finally felt like I belonged. When the bombs went off at the marathon finish line later that day, it was personal. In the hours and days that followed, I watched as the people of Boston came together to honor the victims and their families, the first responders, the runners, the spectators, and rally in the face of terrorism to take back what was ours. I have never felt more proud to call Boston home as I did that day, and it was then that I decided I’d make my dream of crossing the Boston Marathon finish line a reality.
Following my marathon debut in New York City last fall, not only do I have the privilege of running the world’s oldest annual marathon next year, but I have the honor of doing so to raise awareness about a very deserving cause. Team Esplanade is made up of 15 runners who have made a commitment to raise funds for the Esplanade Association's work to revitalize, enhance and sustain the Charles River Esplanade through ecological stewardship & restoration, community engagement & education, advocacy and investment.
The Charles River Esplanade is a stretch of three-mile public green space on the banks of the Charles River in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. In addition to providing a beautiful natural landscape, the park is home to various historical monuments, recreational facilities, and over five miles of pathway for walking, running or biking. Every day of the year, thousands log their miles amidst the Esplanade’s gorgeous gardens, towering trees, and engaging events. Each winter and spring, the excitement builds for the Boston Marathon among runners who turn to the Esplanade’s riverfront pathways and footbridges as the setting for their training runs. Whether I'm training for a race, picnicking with friends, or enjoying some rest and relaxation outside, it's my absolute favorite spot in the city. It's a place where all people, from all walks of life, flock to spend quality time doing the things they love with one another. In many ways for me, it's symbolic of the community that I experienced in the days following the tragic events of 2013 and that which inspires me to run this year.
The Esplanade Association's work is critical to improving the biological diversity and beauty of the natural environment on the Esplanade, utilizing the best practices in land care to improve soil heath, manage invasive plant species, expand native plantings and care for Boston's urban tree canopy. Every year, they also bring thousands of children, students and families to the park for free exercise classes, day camps and educational events. One hundred percent of all money raised goes directly to support these causes and to make sure the park stays a welcoming place for its millions of visitors each year.
The Esplanade Association (Esplanade.org) is a privately-funded nonprofit organization whose work to revitalize, enhance, program, and maintain the park includes:
· HORTICULTURE: Caring for a lush canopy of trees, maintaining beautiful gardens, and leading 2,000 volunteers a year who help care for the park
· ARTS & CULTURE: Commissioning public art, including three new murals in 2019, and showcasing local musical acts on the Hatch Shell Stage
· HEALTH & FITNESS: Hosting seasonal 5Ks and dozens of free fitness classes, jointly caring for the Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields, and partnering to launch the B.A.A. & Esplanade Association Morning Run Club
· CHILDREN & FAMILIES: Building & maintaining two Esplanade playgrounds, hosting free field days for local summer camps, and hosting family-friendly events, tours, and scavenger hunts
· PARK ENHANCEMENTS: Installing new welcome signs with mileage maps, rehabbing historic monuments and park elements, and partnering to bring the popular Owl’s Nest beer garden to the park (a great place for a post-run refreshment!)
I am so excited to be running this race in the city that's given me so much, but I'm also privileged to be representing the Esplanade Association. Help further the Esplanade Association’s ability to care for the Esplanade and to make this beloved park a welcoming place for millions of visitors each year. Support TEAM ESPLANADE!
Thank you for your support and welcome along for the ride! #RunAJRun