An Untraditional Traditional Marathon Monday

Daphne Matalene  running
Author  E.B. Bartels ’10
Published on 

Wellesley’s academic calendar has many beloved annual traditions and rituals: Flower Sunday and convocation in September, commencement in June, and Marathon Monday in…October? Ordinarily, Wellesley students prepare to lose their voices in the Scream Tunnel on the third Monday in April, but due to pandemic delays the 2021 Boston Marathon will now be happening Monday, October 11—Indigenous Peoples Day. Marathon Monday may be occurring when leaves are falling instead of flowers blooming, but Wellesley will still uphold its traditions. Two alums who are running the legendary course and a first-year who is getting ready to cheer the runners on shared their perspectives on the upcoming unusual and special day.

October 11 will be the first Boston Marathon for Emily Lewis ’13. While at Wellesley, Lewis played field hockey: “I was decent at running, but I liked running after a ball instead of just running for the sake of running.” But after graduating and moving to St. Louis to pursue a Ph.D., she found it hard to keep up with a team sport, so she joined a running group instead. When runner friends of hers started signing up for marathons, Lewis followed suit. She had thought about it at Wellesley, after seeing the Boston Marathon. “Even if you’re not a big runner, I think it’s almost impossible to watch that race and not be like, ‘I want to do that one day,’” she said. Lewis began training for and running marathons, and by December 2018 she got a time that qualified her to run Boston.

By then it was too late to sign up for April 2019, so she opted for April 2020—and we all know how that turned out. Lewis has continued to train and run other marathons while waiting to finally get to do Boston. “I’m most excited for the crowd support,” Lewis said, “because the energy of the people watching is really what makes it fun and different from just going out and running on your own. The more races I’ve been in, the more I realize how much the crowd support matters. I always try when I’m watching races to shout out the specific people by name or bib number or the color of their shirt. It doesn’t take a lot for your spirits to be lifted by the people watching.” (To track Lewis’s progress on October 11, follow bib number 8871.)

Daphne Matalene ’96 ran in Boston in April 2019, but called it “one of the bigger disasters” of her running career. A self-described running nerd, Matalene has already run 13 marathons (October 11 will be number 14) and she is on the coaching staff of the New York Road Runners. She has completed five of the six World Marathon Majors—all but Tokyo—and she had spent years trying to qualify for a spot in Boston (“the holy grail if you’re a marathon runner”). When she finally did get a spot in the 123rd Boston Marathon, she was thrilled. But April 15, 2019, was both super hot and very rainy, and Matalene really struggled. “I barfed all over myself by Boston College,” she said, laughing and grimacing. Matalene had planned to complete Boston again in April 2020 as a redemption run but, of course, that didn’t happen. She ended up running the virtual version of the Boston Marathon last fall with Abigail Gardner Athanasopoulos ’02, and while Matalene said they had fun coming up with their own 26.2-mile course on Long Island, where they both live, it was “lacking” compared to the real thing. Matalene is looking forward to many aspects of October 11—a chance for a better run than 2019, the energy that comes from the Scream Tunnel—but she is especially excited that Caroline Hervy ’25, the daughter of one of her “oldest, dearest childhood friends,” is now a first-year at Wellesley and has promised to “make some noise” for Matalene. (To track Matalene’s progress on October 11, follow bib number 13217.)

Hervy will be watching the Boston Marathon for the first time this fall, though she knew about it before coming to Wellesley: “I had read about Marathon Monday on the Wellesley 100 list and actually wrote about it in my Wellesley application essay. I’ve heard that it’s very loud and very fun!” Hervy said Matalene was very excited when she told her that she was planning to attend Wellesley, and Hervy can’t wait to cheer for Matalene and all the other runners. “As a very energetic and bubbly person, I’m looking forward to being extra spirited and loud,” said Hervy. “I can’t wait to see the effect Wellesley has on the energy of the runners!”

The best part of having the 2021 Boston Marathon in October might be that, as of right now, the 2022 race is scheduled for its regular date in April. That means that after having no Marathon Monday in 2020, Wellesley students will get a special chance to double-down on this tradition this school year. Now, go warm up your vocal cords!