The 120th Boston Marathon will convene on Patriot’s Day, a holiday unique to Massachusetts, on April 18, 2016. Runners from around the world will gather to run this oldest, most historic, and most prestigious marathon in the world. The first running of the Boston Marathon was held on April 19, 1897. Because it requires an extremely stringent qualifying time to run the race, being able to qualify and participate has become the goal and dream for many runners. The logo of the Boston Marathon is the unicorn from Greek mythology and is symbolic of something to be pursued, but never caught. For runners, it represents pursuing excellence but never fully achieving it.
Many runners chase this dream. Some achieve it, and some do not. For some, it takes years of effort before attaining the dream of qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon. Leah Yela, a member of the Inland Empire Running Club, is one who has chased the dream for years, and this year, she will be running her first Boston.
Leah was inspired to run by watching the Los Angeles Marathon on television in the 1990s. It was several years later that she ran her first marathon, which was the 2006 L.A. Marathon. Leah cried as she said, “I was so excited. It changed my life, and I then knew that I can do anything if I set my mind on goals.” Since then, she has completed 25 marathons and has a personal best time of 3 hours and 39 minutes.
Leah’s dream is the quintessential of so many Boston Marathoners. For 10 years, she attempted to qualify for Boston. She was focused, determined and trained diligently each time, but she could never reach her qualifying time. At three particular races, she missed her qualifying time by less than five minutes. Never discouraged, when asked what kept her from giving up, she shared how she grew up in a poor family in a small town in Mexico. She came to the U.S when she was 14 to work. She did not know English and had no family or friends. She said, “My motto is don’t give up dreams because of fears.” Leah’s background is typical of what marathoners are made of – discipline, focus, and hard work. She did not give up on the Boston dream. Her discipline helped her attain a 3:39 time, which earned her a spot in the 2016 Boston Marathon.
For more information on the local Chino Hills Inland Empire Running Club, visit www.IErunningclub.com.
Dr. Reggie Thomas, Community Contributor, Inland Empire Running Club