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Utah runner’s dream of running Boston Marathon now on hold

Dustin Williams receives a medal after finishing the Utah Valley Marathon. Williams was planning to run in the Boston Marathon, but now must decide whether to wait until 2021 or participate virtually. Photo courtesy: Dustin Williams

News that the Boston Marathon won’t happen is pretty sad for some Utah runners who had it on their bucket list.

“Once I got qualified, I was excited,” said Dustin Williams. “I thought, I want to try and train hard and maybe get close to my PR (personal record) and see what happens.”

So, Williams got to training. 

“Unfortunately, training was going really well,” he said with a laugh. “I was definitely on pace to run faster than I did last year.”

Williams is the BYU track and field head athletic trainer. He was in Alburqurque in March with the team for the national championships when sporting events started getting canceled. He figured the Boston Marathon, set for April 20, would be next.

“I was supposed to run my longest run that weekend, a 20-miler,” he said. “And I thought, you know what, I think I’m going to take a break.”

Then he learned Boston would be postponed until September. He thought that would work out better, because he could train all summer. He was supposed to be going to Japan for the Olympics when those were postponed until 2021.

“So it’s been a roller coaster of emotions,” he said.

Now Boston organizers say the race in September will be virtual, instead.

Williams previously ran the Boston Marathon in 2001 as a college undergrad, but had an injury and didn’t do well. Then, he said life got busy with graduate school and marriage and his wife’s Olympic shot-put career.

He wanted to do the Boston Marathon this year to redeem himself, and try and beat his personal record of 2:52 that he ran in 2007.

Now he has to decide if he’ll run Boston as a virtual marathon in September, or try for next year instead. He qualified with a time of 2:59:59, which, for his age group, he says should still hold for next year.

He said he feels empathetic for the athletes who are in their prime who feel like they are in limbo.

“I think everyone is understanding how serious this pandemic has been, and we have to do what we can with what we got,” he said.