‘It’s not just about the finish line’

ZACK LONGBOY
STAFF WRITER

Billy Kennedy (’13) spoke to The Standard before and after he ran in the Virgin London Marathon in support of local charity Whizz Kidz.

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Security and spectators watch runners near the London Marathon finish line. Photo by Claudia Costa.

48 hours before the race

A marathon is the ultimate goal for an athlete. While the 26.2-mile run is a challenge for athletes, even after multiple months of training, it doesn’t compare to the struggle some disabled children face finding a wheelchair to support them.

Kennedy decided to run the London Marathon with a goal of raising £1,800 for the charity Whizz Kidz. He hoped his money will help support a child on the path “to leading a more independent life.”

Kennedy said the marathon would be “a different way to see London, just a day out for a nice long run” with the added benefit of running for a charity and raising money for a cause.

“It’s a sending off for me to get one last good look at London, before I have to leave and graduate,” he said.

On April 21, Kennedy was representing more than just himself and his school. He was representing 70,000 disabled young boys and girls in the UK waiting for a wheelchair. Whizz-Kidz is a charity that helps provide mobility devices for disabled children in the UK; each wheelchair costs about £6,000. This is the first time Kennedy has worked with the charity, which has close ties to ASL.

A four-year veteran of the ASL cross country team, Kennedy was prepared for the challenge. After signing up at Christmas, he has been on a strict training schedule ever since. “A big thank you to [Track Coach Annie] Carson for helping me set up balanced schedule with interval training, long runs and rest days,” he said.

Kennedy said, although his endurance will be tested to the limit, “The biggest challenge will definitely be sustaining the mental level needed to run for this long.” With a number of emotions running through his head, Kennedy said he felt both excited and nervous for the upcoming run. “It will be a bit nerve wracking but I’ve heard a lot of great experiences from faculty and parents around the school,” he said.

“On the day, everyone’s out there, it’s a big event, and there’s plenty of enthusiasm.”

Although this is his first marathon, Kennedy has high hopes for himself. “As a hypothetical goal I’d like to think I can do it in under four hours. I’m not sure if that’s feasible, but I’m sure I will figure that out at mile 26!” He added, “Of course I will be trying to stick to my four-hour pace, as long as I can. But, if I fall off? That’s okay, I’m sure I will enjoy the ride.”

When asked about the threat of an attack similar to the Boston Marathon, Kennedy said, “I’m not at all worried about anything.” He added incredulously, “If something were to happen I would find it extremely coincidental that someone’s hopping from country to country blowing bombs up at marathon finish lines specifically.”

***

After the race

As Kennedy rounded the final corner, his legs felt heavy and his breathing was short. “I was tired out of my mind,” he said. “At the same time I also reminded myself this isn’t an opportunity you get everyday, take a look around.”

Kennedy’s race began in Greenwich, the starting line of the marathon. “It was a little terrifying,” Kennedy admitted. His nerves were comforted when he thought of his fellow runners. “I found comfort in the fact that there were many people who had done the same training and raised the money just like I did,” he said.

After a fast start and a first half where he kept on pace, Kennedy’s final time clocked in at 4 hours 30 minutes and 4 seconds. “Toward the end my legs kind of gave out, but I’m still very happy with that time,” he said.

As well as the two pounds donated for every runner to cross the finish line, a half a minute’s silence was held in memory of those who died in the Boston bomb attacks. “It felt like all of London was in it together,” Kennedy said. “It shows everyone really cares.”

Kennedy used the final stretch of the race, with the finish line in sight, as an opportunity to take it all in. “It was just an amazing experience, coming down The Mall past Big Ben and Buckingham Palace,” he said. “The atmosphere was incredible.”

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