Merrily Welch has run 27 marathons, including ones in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Some were easier than others.

None were more challenging than what she faced Monday at the 116th Boston Marathon.

“This was the hardest,” said Welch, 46, of Temple, who finished in 3 hours, 38 minutes, 27 seconds. “At 15 or 16 miles I was like, ‘whoa, what are you doing? This is outrageous.'”

Welch was one of 22,426 runners who coped with a sweltering heat that reached 87 degrees, a city record for the day.

Several hundred needed medical attention during the 26.2-mile race.

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“I’d say that at mile five I was already starting to feel the wear from the heat,” Welch said. “Usually, I am a hot-weather runner. I love the heat. But I was feeling it (Monday). I love the heat, but this was extreme. There didn’t seem to be much of a tailwind. It just seemed magnified.”

Crystal White, 39, who grew up in Winthrop and resides in Falmouth, called the race “brutal.”

White ran the race in honor of her daughter, 11-year-old Tigerlily, who suffers from the rare yet potentially life-threatening liver disease biliary atresia.

Tigerlily received part of her mother’s liver 10 years ago that ultimately saved her life.

White ran the marathon Monday with her sister, Heather Peel, of Fayette.

“We survived,” White said. “It was a rough, rough race. It was just brutal. There were a lot of people down. We acquainted it to a war zone. Our motto was, ‘we survived the Boston Marathon in 2012.'”

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Peter Judge, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said 2,000 runners needed medical attention during the race.

“About 1,500 of them were short-timers, if you will,” he said. “They came in to the tents, got cooled off, had blisters fixed.”

Judge added that about 120 people were transported by ambulance to area hospitals for heat-related issues.

“We’re not aware of any really serious issues,” he said.

White and Peel finished in 6:01.25.

“Finishing it was all that mattered,” said White, a 1991 Winthrop High School graduate. “It was crazy, but there was so much support. People had ice chips for us and ice buckets along the way. We’re just happy we survived.”

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Welch had hoped to break the 3:30 mark, but it didn’t take long for the goal to change.

“I just wanted to finish,” she said. “I was hoping for 3:25 to 3:30, but the weather, it was impossible. I’m thrilled with how I did. I was glad to just see the finish line. When it was over, I was glad to be done.”

Welch trained for her eighth Boston Marathon with Beth Allen, 53, of Farmington, and Sarah Doscinski, 35, of Vienna.

Doscinski finished in 3:59.38. Allen pulled out of the race about 12 miles in due to an Achilles injury.

“I’m happy with it, considering the conditions,” Doscinski said. “In this kind of heat, it was grueling. It was definitely a factor.”

Welch said they all were determined to start the race, despite a warning from the Boston Athletic Association about the heat.

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The BAA granted deferments to runners who wanted to skip this year’s event and instead use their qualifying time for the 2013 Boston Marathon.

“It was nice that they did that, but, no, we didn’t think about not going,” Welch said. “We were just careful and cautious.”

Welch added she kept hydrated during the race.

“That was the key, staying hydrated and trying not to over-heat,” she said. “I hit many of the hoses they had out to stay cool, too. Other than that, there wasn’t much you can do. I just kept telling myself I had to keep going.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

bstewart@centralmaine.com


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