by Blake Krantz
“There was steam rising up from all of the body heat,” said senior Paul Goldfinger describing the start to the Boston marathon. “When I started the race there was a sea of people in front of me. It looked like a bunch of colorful jelly beans bouncing up and down in waves,” he said.
“There were live bands, and people screaming throughout the whole thing. The girls at Wellesley College were especially loud. There were so many spectators and sights to see, it was absolutely breathtaking,” he added.
Goldfinger is a four-year member of the DreamFar High School Marathon organization, as one of the youngest runner on the Boston Marathon course this year. Competitors under the age of 18 are not eligible to run at Boston.
He first ran the Providence marathon as a freshman, an experience that he described as “amazing” and “life-changing.” He has run the Providence marathon three times again since, reaching a personal best time of four hours and fourteen minutes at Providence this year.
Goldfinger credited the support of family, friends, his mentor with the DreamFar organization Henry King, and the organization as a whole for aiding his success in eventually running the Boston marathon.
He also cited the “cheering and motivation of the spectators” as a motivating force for him throughout the course of the race, which he lauded as “amazing.”
The course is largely downhill until around mile 17 in Newton, according to Goldfinger, when it becomes an uphill race. These stretches of uphill running near the end were a challenge for Goldfinger, in addition to the 70 degree heat that varied from the 20-50 degree weather that he trained in throughout the fall and winter.
Around mile 20, Goldfinger began to struggle with painful calf cramps, but he was able to utilize “adrenaline from the crowd” in order to persevere and complete what he labeled as the best experience of his life.
In addition to the crowd’s support, Goldfinger emphasized King’s role in helping him achieve his goals. “King stuck with me throughout the entirety of the race giving me inspiration and helping me through the most painful parts,” he explained.
King ran track and cross country in high school and college, and he now serves as a mentor to many ambitious students who are a part of DreamFar, such as Goldfinger.
“I was incredibly proud of Paul,” King said when asked about this year’s Boston Marathon. “He has a lot of courage and a lot of determination, and we had a lot of fun. I was really happy for him, to see him set a big goal and then go out and achieve it.”
As a mentor, King recognizes the difficulty in training to run a marathon and “finding a way to persevere and get yourself out of bed every Saturday morning.”
According to King, a large part of being successful and enjoying the arduous training process is to complete it with other people, a supportive environment that DreamFar perpetuates with its dedicated group of students.
“It is great to have someone else to spend time with,” King explained. “I love the way they treat each other [at DreamFar].”
Goldfinger also commended DreamFar for its “warm, welcoming, and supportive” community in the task of building up the “strength and confidence” that is necessary to run a marathon.
Members of DreamFar run every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from October until May. Weekdays consist of shorter one to six mile runs, while Saturdays consist of longer runs that build up from four miles to an eventual 26.2, with increases in the number each week.
The training also enforces factors such as nutrition, hydration, and energy conservation throughout a winter that “can be tough” in running in “below freezing temperatures and snow,” Goldfinger said. All the while, DreamFar’s “strong sense of community” serves as motivation for all of its members, according to Goldfinger.
“I have seen the transformation in myself and in others—the empowerment that comes from hard work, perseverance, and success,” Goldfinger said, adding that DreamFar is “much more than a marathon training organization. It is a community in which high school students of all different abilities, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, orientations, and identities can come together as one big family to complete an extreme but achievable goal. The community is completely non-judgemental, and no one is trying to compete with anyone else.”
After Goldfinger’s commendable achievement in running the Boston marathon, King emphasized the fact that Goldfinger is a “great example of setting a goal, putting your mind to it, and accomplishing it.”
According to Goldfinger, “learning to work hard and long for something great is an amazing life skill that I know I will always treasure, whether I’m running a marathon or facing any other challenges in my life.”