Western Mass Distance Project women run, support each other at Boston Marathon

  • Western Mass Distance Project members (from left) Zach Patnode, Kate Queeney, Ivan Cordero, Kristin Tetrault, Karin George, Liz Congo and Leslie Charles gather just after Heartbreak Hill at Mile 22 of the Boston Marathon on Monday. They waited for their teammates running the race. Courtesy Kristin Tetrault

Published: 4/17/2017 7:29:00 PM

BOSTON — As Apryl Sabadosa traversed the Boston Marathon course, she heard her name called from the spectator areas.

She wasn’t sure who it was, but she felt the support.

“You don’t know everyone out on the course, but my teammates are out there somewhere,” Sabadosa said. “It makes you feel at home a little bit.”

The Westfield resident runs for the Western Mass Distance Project team, which was well represented both on the course and behind the spectator barriers. She finished in 2 hours, 56 minutes, 40 seconds. It was a personal best by 13 minutes and placed her 60th in the women’s division.

Sabadosa started out slowly, running her first two miles in over seven minutes. She actually sped up over the course of the race, finishing her last two miles in 6:11 and 6:13, respectively.

“I was back and forth with my pace,” she said. “It was like ‘anything I can get at this point. I don’t want to leave anything on the streets in Boston today.”

As a team, the Western Mass Distance Project placed 12th in the Women’s Open Division.

The combined time of their top three runners (Sabadosa, Annie Paredes and Amy Rusiecki) was 9:31:40.

Hansons-Brooks Distance Project (Michigan) took the women’s title in 7:36:27. Fleet Feet/Nike Racing Team (Illinois) took 10th at 9:29:41. Twin Cities Running Company (Minnesota) was 11th in 9:30:42.

Paredes, a Westfield resident, finished in 3:13:18, and Rusiecki, of South Deerfield, finished in 3:22:18.

Both finished within the top 1,000 runners.

“There’s a lot of founding principles of the team, one of them is we want to be competitive at the high end. Another is we want to build a sense of community,” Rusiecki said. “I’ve seen a lot of teams where people put on a jersey but aren’t on a team in the truest sense of the word.”

Five Western Mass Distance project women competed in the open field, and two raced in the masters field.

South Hadley native and Holyoke resident Melissa Hine, whose brother Zach was the top American last year, finished in 3:23:22. Hope Phelan, of West Halifax, Vermont, crossed in 3:26:18. Both ran in the open division.

Vanessa Diana (3:44:16), a Westfield State professor, and Leeann Cerpovicz (5:10:35) competed for the masters team.

They all dealt with weather hovering around 80 degrees early on in the race.

“It was hot as hell. It was brutal,” said Diana, 46. “It was not pretty out there.”

They managed the heat by drinking water earlier and more often than normal, and most poured it on themselves to keep cool. Clouds moved in as the afternoon progressed.

“When it wasn’t cloudy it felt like you were getting baked into the asphalt,” Paredes said.

As they descended the back side of Heartbreak Hill, the runners saw seven of their teammates on the spectator barricades around the 22nd mile.

Southwick track & field coach and Westfield State assistant cross country coach Kristin Tetrault spent the day waiting and cheering. She’s run the Boston Marathon four times, but has another race coming up in a few weeks and decided to lend her support instead.

“You see your friends for five seconds, but it’s the best five seconds,” Tetrault said “You can read the expressions on their face, their stride, their form. You can tell who’s having a good day and who’s having a bad day.”

Seeing a familiar face made it a better day either way.

“Seeing their faces and seeing them there waiting for me, they spent their entire day there for us,” Paredes said. “They didn’t have to do that. That was one of the highlights of my day.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

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