BOSTON — At about 3 p.m. on Patriots’ Day, Millis senior Ben Hurney crossed the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street.
He was one of maybe a handful of runners stepping over the finish line on a day that would normally be packed with runners and spectators from all over the world.
“I’ve never been to the finish line on Marathon Monday, so I wouldn’t know any different,” Hurney said. “It was interesting. There was still a lot of people around the area, but it was definitely a good feeling to cross the finish line.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Boston Marathon has been postponed to Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. It is the second straight year in which the Boston Marathon has not been run on the traditional Patriots’ Day due to COVID-19.
However, that wasn’t the only reason Hurney felt satisfied crossing the famous finish line. Hurney had completed a 140.6-mile Ironman Triathlon over the course of two days.
Hurney began his Ironman on Saturday, April 10 in Pittsfield. The 18-year-old from Millis began a 2.4-mile swim at around 7 a.m. at a YMCA in Pittsfield. He then rode his bike 117 miles from Pittsfield to the Marathon start line in Hopkinton where he finished his journey running the Boston Marathon route.
“I initially intended to swim at Lake Onota in Pittsfield,” Hurney said. “But I couldn’t because the water temperature was dangerously cold around 40 degrees.”
He originally intended to complete the Ironman in one day, but a knee injury that he suffered at around mile 75 of his bike ride slowed his progress.
“I had messed my knee up,” Hurney said. “I told my cross country coach and we took a look at it and she said it was a tendon issue.”
“We took a look at it and he was already dealing with fatigue,” said Millis cross country coach Siobhan Clayton, who also served as Hurney’s mentor for his senior project. “He had just done a monumental bike ride, but there was definitely an overuse injury occurring just through being on the bike for so long, so he started the marathon leg at a disadvantage.”
Hurney didn’t arrive to the Marathon Start Line in Hopkinton until 8:45 p.m. where he arrived to a host of family and friends waiting to support him. Hurney ended up running about half of the marathon route before calling it a day at about 1 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, April 11.
“The day before when my family and I were on our way to Pittsfield, I had texted an old cross country team group chat letting them know that I was doing an Ironman and asking if they would want to come out to Hopkinton to support me,” Hurney said. “Two or three of them said that they would and when I ended up getting to Hopkinton, there were about eight of my friends there to support me. It was really nice to see.”
Hurney resumed his Ironman nine days later at noon, right where he left off in Wellesley Square.
Hurney is no stranger to long distance endurance trips. The senior who did cross country at Millis for three years rode 100 miles on a track bike last summer. That following October, he rode his bike 215 miles from Boston to New York City by himself with his mom in a car monitoring him as he went.
“I didn’t doubt him a second,” Clayton said on him achieving this accomplishment. “He is a very capable athlete and when he sets his mind to something, he gets it done.”
Hurney didn’t focus on training until November and the hardest part, he said, was finding time to run and train during the winter months and trying to balance school and everything. But the fact that he was already in shape due to cross country and his bike ride to the Big Apple certainly helped.
The Ironman is part of Hurney’s senior project, for which he is raising money for the Christopher Reeve Foundation. His original goal was to raise $3,000. As of April 21, he has raised nearly, $3,500.
The Reeve Foundation is “dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by advancing innovative research and improving quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis,” as stated in their mission statement. At age 42, the “Superman” actor became paralyzed after falling off his horse during an Equestrian competition.
“The ability of movement and mobility is something that I try hard not to take for granted,” Hurney said on his fundraising page. “It’s easy to forget how vulnerable we all are to paralysis.”
The Reeve Foundation recently contacted Hurney about joining their running team and while the Ironman that he completed on Monday wasn’t an official Ironman – which needs to be completed in the same day – he hopes to compete in someday.
As for the Boston Marathon, he hopes to run in that as well although it won’t be this October.
Whenever Hurney competes in the Boston Marathon and/or an official Ironman, perhaps he will be running for Superman once again.
If you would like to donate to the Christopher Reeve Foundation on behalf of Hurney, please go to https://allstars.funraise.org/fundraiser/benhurney.
Ethan Winter is a senior multimedia sports journalist at the Daily News. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @EWints.