Doden running with purpose
At about 8 a.m. Monday, more than 36,000 people are expected to descend on Hopkinton, Mass. Over the ensuing three hours, all will depart, due northeast, attempting to cover the 26 miles and 385 yards to Boston, where the finish line of the world’s oldest annual marathon lies in wait.
Red Wing’s Cory Doden will participate in the race for the second time. It has been nearly a decade since Doden last ran through Ashland, Framingham, Natick and Wellesley, and glanced up at the John Hancock Tower in Copley Square.
Doden’s path to becoming a distance runner wasn’t a typical one.
“About 10-12 years ago, I was always active, playing basketball and stuff, and golf, and I was actually drinking quite a bit, and in my twisted justification for running, I thought, ‘Well, I better do something to counteract this drinking,’” Doden said. “So I started running. And, eventually, I started running more and more, and eventually I quit drinking. And one thing led to more of the other. So I ran the local 10K, eventually ran the 2003 Twin Cities marathon … . So that’s how I started running distance like this. I ran the Twin Cities three times in a row, then I ran Boston in 2006 because I qualified in 2005 at the Twin Cities.”
In running, Doden found a better kind of addiction. And it’s one that his oldest son, Jeremy, has started to pick up.
“Both my boys were athletic, they were hockey players in high school. (Jeremy) started running to stay in shape,” Doden said. “Then he got the bug so to speak when I ran (in Boston) ... He kind of decided, ‘If the old man can do it,’ he can run a marathon, too.”
About the only common thing between marathons is the distance, roughly 26.2 miles. But the course in Minneapolis and St. Paul is vastly different than that in Boston. And that changes the experience a runner will have.
“The first time I ran it was a great experience because it was the first time. And the Twin Cities does a great job of putting on a marathon... But compared to Boston, I’m not sure of this, but I think Boston is the oldest marathon in America, and it’s if not the most prestigious marathon in the world, it’s in the top three,” Doden said. “And the other thing with Boston, you have to qualify, you can’t just sign up and hope to get in by lottery like the Twin Cities. So I had to qualify for Boston, and that made it extra special.”
Adding to the appeal and unique nature of the Boston marathon is the fact that few people will have anything better to do on Monday.
“It’s a state holiday out there. It’s called Patriot’s Day. They say it’s like a 26-mile block party,” Doden said. “The crowds are great, cheering you on. It’s a real vibrant environment. The Twin Cities is great, and the crowds are great, but it’s a different out there, just because of all the history behind it, and the people get behind it.”
Of course, some of those people were directly affected by the bombing of last year’s marathon. While he was not there, Doden immediately focused on getting back into the race for 2014.
“Last spring I was training to run Grandma’s (Marathon in Duluth) in June,” Doden said. “And then the day they had the bombing in Boston, I was like, ‘Wow. What a terrible feeling for the runners who didn’t get to finish, for everyone, really … . I figured if I was ever going to run Boston again, I’m going to do it next year just to stick it to the terrorists and do something that’s patriotic. So I stepped up my training and qualified for Boston when I ran in Duluth.”
The one-year anniversary of the bombing was recently recognized in Boston. On Tuesday evening, two backpacks were located near the finish line. While the bags were found to contain no explosives, memories were jolted.
Doden isn’t worried about any security issues for Monday’s race. In fact, he’s running, in part, because of the kind of people that would even consider such a terrible act.
“It didn’t really concern me too much. They caught the guy … it’s one of those mind-boggling things, you just can’t understand the rationale of those people. What were they thinking? Why are they doing this?” Doden asked. “Normal people like us just can’t get our arms around why someone would do that, and I think that’s why all the more reason people like us — runners, spectators, Americans — have to go out and participate and not be afraid, go about our business and show them what Americans are made of.”
Asked what he might be looking forward to in his second time through the course, Doden said he’ll be on the lookout for some of the landmarks that dot the course — including Wellesley College’s female students that line up to kiss the entrants.
“Being a middle-aged man, this is my opportunity to get kissed by a co-ed and not get in trouble,” Doden said with a laugh. “You can’t pass that up.”
But Doden will also be proudly displaying the names of several people on his race-day shirt. This past year, Doden’s wife, Denise, was diagnosed with breast cancer. In a show of support, the Doden family will participate in a Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure on Mother’s Day.
And to raise the money for the Komen race, Doden is taking donations for those who have also been impacted by breast cancer.
“For people who donate, I’m writing the names of mothers, daughters, friends, who have had cancer,” Doden said. “Every mile, I’ll look down and say, ‘Mary, this is your mile,’ so to speak.”