To runners and non-runners alike, the Boston Marathon is likely viewed as the most famous annual foot race on the planet. It’s certainly a favourite of Barb Davis, who’ll be tackling the course on April 16 for the sixth year in a row.
There are many reasons why the race is so famous, says Ms. Davis, the registrar at Brock University. For starters, it is the world’s oldest annual marathon, first run in 1897. It is also highly regarded by runners because one must qualify for the race, whereas most other marathons are open to anyone able to participate. But, for Ms. Davis, it’s the crowds that set it apart – more than half-a-million spectators line the route on race day to cheer the runners on. “The fan support is next to none. It’s so exhilarating,” she says. “The noise level, the entire way, is just unbelievable.”
Ms. Davis, 52, is a relative newcomer to marathon racing but clearly has the knack. On her first marathon, in 2006, her time was fast enough to qualify her for Boston the next year. She has now run 19 marathons in all.
She joined a running group when starting out, which was a “terrific support system,” she says. “These people became family to me by the end of it and many are still my running partners.”
A typical runner can expect to do about three to four months of training before a race, although Ms. Davis says nowadays she is almost always in training. “I try to do three or four of these a year if I can swing it.” The training “is part of the fun, part of the experience,” she says. “It’s certainly added balance to my life.”
Known by many on the Brock campus simply as “Barb,” Ms. Davis has been working at the university for 28 years – the last nine as registrar – and was a student at Brock before that. Her father was also Brock’s athletic director for many years. “I kind of grew up here,” she says.