On Marathon Monday, it’s the professional athletes like Hellen Obiri, Marcel Hug, Evans Chebet and Susannah Scaroni who grab all the headlines. But there are another 30,000 athletes running the Boston Marathon who aren’t competing to break records. One such dedicated runner, Toni Cabo, is a preschool teacher from Brooklyn who finished the marathon in 4 hours and 38 minutes.

She joined GBH’s All Things Considered host Arun Rath to talk about how the Boston race compares to the New York course, and what her students and daughter did to support her on her run. What follows is a lightly edited transcript.

Arun Rath: So when did you finish?

Toni Cabo: I finished, I believe, at 3:58 p.m. My time was 4 hours and 38 minutes.

Rath: That's awesome. So you've had a little bit of time for it to sink in. Now, I can't even imagine what it must feel like. What does it feel like?

Cabo: It feels great, to be honest with you. I over-anticipated the hills. I thought I wasn't gonna be able to handle the hills. And actually doing them, I was like, “Oh, this wasn't that bad!” I didn't even know I climbed “Heartbreak Hill” until I saw a sign that I finished it.

Rath: Maybe that maybe that's the best way to do it. How was the rain? Did that make things harder, or was it just kind of refreshing?

Cabo: Well, the rain would be refreshing for someone who doesn't wear glasses. So for me, it was a little bit of discomfort because I had to keep taking the glasses off to wipe them down. But it didn't rain, like, heavy. My daughter was telling me when I met up with her, “Oh my God, it was pouring.” I was like, “It didn't pour when we were running.”

But the mist, it was like a really heavy mist and a fog. So it was a little bit uncomfortable to run with the glasses. But it was kind of refreshing, not to lie.

I mean, I ran the New York City Marathon this past November. And to compare, like temperature wise, I'll take this over that temperature.

Rath: Yeah. Is this the first time you've run Boston?

Cabo: First time I've ever ran Boston, yes.

Rath: And how does it compare then, beyond the weather?

Cabo: To be honest with you, I mean, listen, Boston is great. The community was amazing. Seeing the people out on their lawn, like cheering — the strangers, with their signs and their posters and having their dogs out, that was really beautiful to see. I'm one of those, I like to take it all in and watch them. And it was very beautiful.

But the New York City Marathon, if I was to compare, I'm not going to lie, it's phenomenal. It's a different type of atmosphere. But I mean, listen, they were both great — Boston, great town, I would definitely do it again. But the crowd in New York i — I don't want to say, but they're more up there. They really bring it. They really, really bring it with the music and the dancing. You know, the bridges are killers.

"Boston is strong, I'll tell you that. Very strong. And they really know how to lift their people up."
Toni Cabo, first-time Boston Marathon runner

Rath: So speaking of New York, you're a preschool teacher in Brooklyn, right?

Cabo: Yes, yes, actually in Bushwick.

Rath: Awesome. And I imagine your students know all about this, your doing this?

Cabo: Yeah. They were so excited. They mean they made me posters and signs. So my daughter, she did this really cool thing. We bought a poster board. So on one side, the poster board, she wrote her thing. And then on the other side, she took their posters and glued it on. So it was really, really cute.

One of my students gave me a medal, and she asked me to wear it to the race. And I was like, “You know what? Of course I will.” And I actually did. So I wore her medal. And then my students, they said little sayings. And then my teacher that I work with, somehow she's able to put what they said on a hat.

Rath: Nice, it's been great speaking with you. Thank you so much. And again, congratulations.

Cabo: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. And Boston is strong, I'll tell you that. Very strong. And they really know how to lift their people up.

Close-up on a black hat with different messages written on it: "From Pre-K to the Boston Marathon!" "Corre mucho y fuerte" "Get that Medal"
Toni Cabo shows off the hat her students made her for the 2023 Boston Marathon after she crossed the finish line on April 17, 2023. She ran the course in 4 hours and 38 minutes.
Annie Shreffler GBH News