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The Most Moving Marathon

Caleb Daniloff runs the run, and talks the talk


Click above to see and hear Caleb Daniloff’s perspective on what might be the most amazing athletic event of all, the Boston Marathon. Photos by Alonso Nichols, Andrew Reed Weller, and Kalman Zabarsky

As hard as he trained, absorbing advice and insight from other runners, steeping himself in mythology and tradition, Caleb Daniloff wasn’t fully prepared for the amazing spectacle and experience that is the Boston Marathon.

From the moment the race began in Hopkinton, crossing the starting line at around 10:30 a.m. amid a throng of runners and celebrants, the spirit of his fellow athletes and the cheers of the crowd buoyed him in a way no one can truly appreciate until they have been in those sneakers.

Checking in with BU Today editor Seth Rolbein via cell phone along the famous route, Daniloff’s street-level account — the congestion, the tempo, the emotions, the color, the highs, the gut-check that must come with every marathon — creates an intimate, intense mosaic of what it means to be part of the world’s most compelling populist athletic event.

“It’s like Woodstock on sneakers,” Daniloff cracked early on. As the miles piled up, his breathing got harder, but his mood remained high. “The cheering, the encouragement — you can’t even imagine how much energy it gives you.”

“Be the Brickie,” Daniloff reminded himself on his final leg (or is that his final legs?), invoking the spirit of “Bricklayer” Bill Kennedy, one of the greatest and most colorful Marathon runners and winners of all. Kennedy might not have been impressed with Daniloff’s time — unofficially, 4 hours, 20 minutes, and 5 seconds (averaging just under 10-minute miles) — but he would have celebrated the attitude and intent that got a 39-year-old writer across the line and into the arms of his wife, Christine, exhausted but intact, finished but fulfilled.

It’s way too early to talk about next year, but don’t count our man out. With a little experience under his belt, he might just win it.

This is Caleb Daniloff’s seventh and final dispatch in his series about training for, and running, his first 26.2-miler. Click here to read previous installments.

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at cdanilof@bu.edu.

Readers can still support Caleb’s marathon charity, the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center in Hopkinton, Mass., by clicking here. Once back on his feet, Caleb plans to post final impressions of the race at his marathon blog. Check back later in the week.



12 Comments on The Most Moving Marathon

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2009 at 9:47 am

    Congratulations! That’s an amazing accomplishment and you should be so proud to have crossed that finish line!!!

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2009 at 11:08 am

    Great story!

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2009 at 11:12 am

    Great story and great way to end the series! Congratulations to Caleb on this huge accomplishment!!

  • cdanilof on 04.21.2009 at 11:23 am



    I just watched your BU Today slideshow, and on behalf of the BU Men’s Cross-Country team, congratulations on finishing the Boston Marathon !!

    I’ve heard way too many horror stories about this course, especially with regards to cramps and dehydration and even the infamous Heartbreak

    Even though your time wasn’t quite what you were looking for, I think you should still be extremely proud of your achievement. You worked hard for this, and it was for a great cause. Many congratulations to
    you !

    David Proctor & BUXC

    p.s. we like to think that played a small role in this accomplishment !
    haha – congrats again.

  • cdanilof on 04.21.2009 at 11:24 am

    Yea, Caleb!

    So you did it!!! Congratulations. Time to start practicing for next year?

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2009 at 1:31 pm

    You're a great sport

    Running a marathon is no easy feat. But calling in every five miles to report on your experiences, while running it, I can’t imagine how hard that was for you.

    Thanks for sharing your story with the community, and for motivating us all to do something challenging and worthwhile.

    Go Brickie!

  • Anonymous on 04.21.2009 at 1:38 pm


    The picture of Caleb running with his dad is very sweet!

  • cdanilof on 04.21.2009 at 2:20 pm



    On behalf of all the coaches here at BUAEC – a hearty congratulations to you on your amazing accomplishment! The 2009 BOSTON MARATHON!
    A great effort, wonderful writing and a noble cause!
    We’re so proud!

    Enjoy the stairs this week! ;)


  • Anonymous on 04.21.2009 at 9:19 pm

    Wow — this is awesome! What a great way to cap off the series. Congratulations!

  • Anonymous on 04.22.2009 at 8:29 am

    Other BU Marathon runners?

    Congratulations to Caleb for this monumental achievement! I know of one other BU runner who ran the Marathon for charity–Dave Rini from the Med Campus ran for the BU Medical Center. It would be great if you could get some kind of count on how many other BU runners there were!

  • Anonymous on 04.22.2009 at 9:22 am


    Congratulations, Caleb! Great going! Loved the slideshow and your commentary! This is a wonderful story and personal accomplishment. So happy for you!

    Three cheers!

  • PK on 04.22.2009 at 10:29 am

    Congratulations, Caleb!!!

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