There’s no telling who will win the Boston Marathon on Monday, but you can feel confident about one result. Ward and Wade Boudreau will have the same times through the different splits. Through the 5K, 10K and 15K checkpoints. At the halfway mark. And, most likely, when they cross the finish line in Boston’s Copley Square.
It’s not a coincidence. The Boudreaus are identical twins, and they make it a point for their times to be the same.
“We’ve trained all year together, and we definitely help to temper each other,” said Wade, a Gardiner resident like his brother. “Sometimes in a race, somebody will feel great in a moment, and a couple of moments later you might not feel so great. So we help to average it out a little bit.
“It’s part of the journey for us, for sure. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
The Boudreaus are two of the 229 runners registered for the 121st Boston Marathon from Maine, 17 of which hail from the Central Maine area. They come from different backgrounds; some, like West Gardiner’s Johanna Stickney, Waterville’s Ronald Peck, Pittsfield’s Bruce Maxwell and Kents Hill’s Nancy Feeney, are entered again after competing in last year’s running. Others, like Sabattus’s Todd Michaud, Augusta’s Ian Doyle and Hallowell’s Emmy Spiegel, are running Boston for the first time. And still others, like Farmington’s Steven Russell, Gardiner’s Emil Pazdziorko and Bob Kus, and Wilton’s Marco Gudino-Flores, are back after missing last year’s race, if not a few more before.
None, however, share the backstory of the Boudreaus, 41, who got into running together, train together and stick by each other’s side throughout the race.
“We want to run together. It’s such a cool experience, and it’s much more enjoyable with a friend,” Ward said. “It’s our time to talk, enjoy each other’s company. I don’t like running alone anymore. Running can be kind of boring.”
That showed in 2016, when the two had the same splits through 25K, then rejoined at 40K after separating and finished at 3:34.26, but there are some differences in the running pasts and approaches between the brothers. Ward, who’s entering his sixth Marathon to Wade’s fourth, has the edge in Boston experience, and both acknowledge that Ward is the faster of the two while Wade is more consistent.
They’re one mind on the course, however, where they know they help each other post the best times they can.
“We’ve got enough experience to know where we should be and what to expect,” Ward said. “Doing it together actually makes it a lot easier, we can say ‘Whoa, temper it a little bit, you’re going a little too fast.’ We try to run as best as we can for our level of fitness.”
They’ll be joined among the veterans of the daunting trail by Audrey Machowski, a 40-year-old from Wales who has run 13 marathons and will be running Boston for the fifth time after competing in 2011, ’13, ’15 and ’16. Hearing her describe the experience, it’s easy to see why she keeps coming back.
“The main thing that makes Boston special is the energy of the crowds, all along the way,” she said. “The sound of the race is just amazing.”
Machowski pinpointed the support the runners get halfway through the race at Wellesley College (“It literally is a noise tunnel,” she said) and then at the end, when the mobs of fans welcome the exhausted competitors to the finish line, trying to help them forget just how tired they are.
“It’s such a rush to see. You feel like a celebrity,” she said. “The encouragement along the way, the signs, people are yelling, they’re out, they’re grilling. You’re part of a giant party.”
For all the runners who will make the pilgrimmage to Hopkinton, Massachusetts yet again, there are those making their first trips. They’re runners like Michaud, 45, who started running marathons in 2014 and qualified for Boston with a time of 3:19 at Sugarloaf in May.
“It’s a huge deal for me,” he said. “It’s a goal I set for myself, and a lot of people accomplish it and a lot of people fail, too, people who run for years and years prior to actually qualifying for Boston.
“Having only started running in my early 40s and qualified when I was 45, I thought that was a feat in itself, to be able to do it in a short amount of time.”
He’s aware of the ominous lore of Boston, tales of strong races coming to a crashing halt at the infamous Heartbreak Hill in Newton, but Michaud insists he’s ready. Sabbatus’s hilly terrain has prepared him well, he believes, and he made sure to focus his training to include tempo and interval exercises.
“I think I’m pretty well-trained for this one, more than I have trained for others,” he said. “I never let anything scare me going into a race. The hill’s the hill, the road’s the road.”
The runners who have conquered Boston know it’s a different challenge, though the biggest adjustment isn’t always the terrain. With 30,000 runners in the crowd, and runners with similar qualifying times lumped together, space at any point in the 26.2 miles is hard to come by.
“In Boston, you’re amongst your peers,” Wade Boudreau said. “Normally in a race, we’ll get out and we’ll get some space. But in Boston, you are packed in tight. The energy around you is just amazing, let alone the energy from the crowd.”
Few can attest to how that has evolved more than Russell. The 61-year-old first competed in 1975, the year race icon Bill Rodgers earned his first of four victories, then ran two more in the early ’80s and another when he turned 50 in 2006. He hasn’t competed since, but with his 60th birthday approaching, the Farmington resident wanted to give it another go.
“I figured I’d try again at 60,” he said. “See if I could still do it.”
He qualified in Brooklyn a year and a half ago, but will make his return Monday. He’ll tough out a nagging hamstring injury to do it, but knows the experience — particularly the finish — is worth it.
“When you take that turn on Hereford Street onto Boylston … you can see the finish from that point,” he said. “You see the throngs of people and you hear the cheering. It’s an impressive sensation, feeling and sight to see that.”
Russell’s not alone with that opinion.
“My advice would be to take it all in,” Machowski said. “Treat it as your victory lap, it’s just such a special event to be a part of. Make sure you take it in and don’t just be looking down at your watch. It’s a special run.”
Drew Bonifant — 621-5638