0 of 0


Last year, WGBH News reported on the Tufts Marathon Team’s emotional return to the Marathon course, after its experience with the 2013 bombing. Now its future is uncertain because the long-term agreement that it has enjoyed with its sponsor is about to expire.

Since 2003, Tufts University has fielded a team of runners to compete in the Boston Marathon. The Tufts Marathon Team, believed to be the largest collegiate marathon program in the country, is made up of students, faculty, parents and alumni all of whom run for charity, raising money for fitness, nutrition, and medical programs at Tufts.

The runners at Tufts have received special access to bib numbers under a twelve-year agreement with John Hancock Financial Services, the Marathon’s principle sponsor, but this is the last year of the arrangement and moving forward, the team’s coach, Don Megerle, does not know what to expect.

“I don’t think we’ll be given numbers again, you know, the sizeable numbers that we’ve had before, whether it’s 100 or 200 numbers, maybe a handful of numbers,” he said.

Miriam Nelson, co-captain of the Tufts Marathon Team and a professor at Tufts, has been trying to stay positive about the future.

“We have built up such a Marathon team that I am very confident that we will continue to have a marathon team,” she said. “There are many marathons all over the world. I’m running one in France in June with my daughters. Our runners run everywhere, so we will continue to have a Marathon team.”

This team is tight-knit. After experiencing the 2013 bombing and last year’s poignant return, former team member Mackenzie Loy says this time the tone is less intense.

“I think this year is just a little different,” she said. “[There is] a little bit more of that light heartedness and the purity of that we’re just running to run and not necessarily for some other reason.”

But team member, Joe Lessard, finds it hard not to think about the current trial of admitted Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

“I think it will be an important time for the city, an important time for the people of Boston, the people of Massachusetts — just to get on with this chapter and then finally close this chapter and move on,” he said.

Megerle could also be moving on, but after eleven years with the Marathon team and decades coaching men’s swimming at Tufts before that, he says that he is not worried about the future.

“When I left Tufts swimming after 33 years, I had zero plans … on doing anything, and within a couple of months here I am working with the marathon runners,” he explained. “[The team has] become such a part of my life. And I will let life unfold in a way to make something else available.”

Whatever that something else is, he said, it will be good.

Statement from Tufts University to WGBH News concerning the future of its Marathon program:

“John Hancock provides us with the charity numbers for our runners. We feel very fortunate to have had this support since 2003, but understand that many worthwhile nonprofits would appreciate a similar opportunity. While this arrangement ends this year … there may be opportunities for our runners to participate in other races or to run Boston for other charities. We hope to still provide a training program for students who choose to do so.

Right now, our focus is on making 2015 another great year for our runners and the many members of the extended Tufts family who will be cheering them on.”