Northampton’s Sam Coates-Finke finishes frigid, wet Boston Marathon in 120th


  • Runners approach the finish line during the 122nd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Runners approach the finish line during the 122nd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Charles Krupa

  • Runners in the first wave break from the start on rain soaked streets during the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., Monday, April 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm) Mary Schwalm

Published: 4/16/2018 7:33:56 PM

BOSTON — Sam Coates-Finke heard a spectator yell out “Northampton!” at the 10th mile of the Boston Marathon. The Northampton High School alum tried to “woo!” or respond around Natick.

His body wouldn’t make a sound. He couldn’t feel his arms. His face was numb.

Coates-Finke ran his first Boston Marathon on Monday in freezing rain and temperatures in the 30s.

“I was like ‘I can’t believe I’m going to do this for another hour and a half, but you just keep doing it,” he said. “You have to keep going.”

Coates-Finke finished the marathon in 120th, crossing the finish line on Boylston Street in 2 hours, 38 minutes, 38 seconds.

It was his second marathon after qualifying in Philadelphia in 2016.

“It was hard. I’ve run enough races through high school and college to know bad weather happens,” said Coates-Finke, 24. “I think it’ll be funny when I run another Boston down the line and it’s really beautiful out. It definitely shapes the Boston experience.”

He kept his pace measured through the first 8 miles after hearing it’s very easy to burn out on the downhill. Coates-Finke ran the first half of the marathon in 1:16:50.

“After that, I started bleeding out,” he said.

His mile splits jumped from 5:45 to 6:15. The rain bothered him throughout.

“As much as you can, you don’t think about it,” Coates-Finke said. “I happened to think about it quite a lot because it’s hard not to.”

Then he hit the final, famous turns: right on Hereford, left on Boylston.

“You turn those last two corners, and the noise was elevated like five times,” Coates-Finke said. “At that point, the rain doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. That was the moment of like ‘Wow, this is Boston.’”

Coates-Finke moved back to Northampton in January. He started his own business: Backyard Bread, which offers classes on bread-baking and building stone ovens. He also substitutes at Jackson Street School.

Coates-Finke joined the Western Mass Distance Project club before running the marathon. The team finished fourth. Greenfield’s Nicholas Roofa was the top finisher from the Western Mass Distance Project team in 60th (2:35:59).

Coates-Finke is considering pursuing running more seriously but isn’t positive.

“There’s something special about running. You know the point of it is to put yourself in a lot of pain and push through that pain to achieve something,” Coates-Finke said. “That conquering of the fear is a really powerful thing to practice.”

Ayr cracks top 25

Jason Ayr knew early on Monday wouldn’t produce his best Boston Marathon time.

Instead, his seventh time running Boston was his best finish. Ayr, a UMass graduate originally from Westfield, took 22nd in 2:29:53. His best time was 2:24:49 last year, when he finished 29th.

“I think anyone that was honest with themselves knew right away it was a race where you shouldn’t be focused on the splits and more focused on the effort,” Ayr said.

The Brighton resident paced his run with Daniel Vassallo and Ruben Sanca, two runners he knows from the Boston area. Vasallo finished 10th (2:27:50).

“Today was a particularly bad day, but I think New England runners in general have an advantage in conditions like this because we never now what we’re gonna get,” Ayr said.

His legs locked up around the 16th mile, sooner than he expected to deal with that kind of discomfort. The challenge became keeping a relaxed stride and moving forward.

“Usually feeling that bad is not something you want to happen with an hour of racing to go,” Ayr said. “The last half hour was really mentally a grind.”

The conditions altered his focus. Ayr wasn’t worried about a time anymore. He zeroed in on placing and finishing the race out.

“It simplified the goal,” Ayr said.

He felt a deep sense of relief crossing the finish line.

“I love the Boston Marathon,” Ayr said. “It’s cool to see even in pretty terrible conditions for everybody you can still have so many people still come out and rally.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at


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