By Meaghan Cahill ’20
After a mere 26.2 miles, Jessica Looney ’20 will become the youngest member of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team to complete the world famous Boston Marathon.
Running for both of her grandfathers, who each passed away from cancer, Looney decided to apply for the Dana-Farber team because it was “a good charity to give back to.” The team consists of a little over 500 people, and this year 50-75 new applicants were accepted.
The application process was very extensive, and once she made the team, Looney was faced with the challenge of having to raise the required amount of money to be on the team.
“There is the expectation to raise $10,000,” Looney said, which is double the required amount of raised donations. With that $10,000 price in mind, Looney decided to set the goal of reaching the minimum $5,000 before Christmas.
“Anything after that is a bonus,” she said. Her goal was met and to date, Looney has raised well over $8,000.
“I am so happy to be raising…much more [than the required $5,000].” Looney relentlessly pursued fundraising opportunities, choosing to send fliers to neighbors, family friends, etc. However, the main source of her fundraising came from the blog that she decided to create to put her marathon experience into words.
The blog, entitled “Why I Run,” is a way for Looney to publicly reach out to as many people as she can to receive donations, but also to memorialize her “milestone moments” in word form and track her progress and training experience, which officially began Jan. 1 of this year.
When asked why she decided to start training for the Boston Marathon, Looney admitted that it was “always something I wanted to do and the [Providence] half marathon really pushed me to want to go to that next step.” Looney then continued to say, “It had been on my mind since I got to college.”
Come the start of the new year, Looney wasted no time getting into her training, setting apart long distance days and short distance days. Her runs range from 10 to 18 miles.
Her longest run to date was when she completed the first 22 miles of the Boston Marathon, stopping just after grinding up Heartbreak Hill, which Looney boldly claims is “not as hard as everyone makes it out to be.”
“Your body is moving and you aren’t even thinking about it after a while,” Looney commented on the long distance of the course and the amount of time it takes to finish it. “Plus, after a while everything just goes numb,” she jokingly added.
With no prior running training, Looney turned to Andrew “Drew” Harrod ’19 for tips and assistance in how to prepare.
“He’s really helped a lot,” Looney said of her running companion, who is not running the Boston Marathon, but is planning on competing in the Providence Marathon.
Being a “student in training,” Looney does admit to missing out on a lot of things such as “going out on the weekends with my friends,” but she does not regret her choice to run the marathon.
“I’m probably gonna cry when I finish,” she admitted.
Turning more towards the actual race, Looney claims she is “feeling pretty confident” and that she has “no need to prepare any more [then she already has].”
“It’s been in my mind for six months and I can’t believe that it’s finally here,” she stated. And if there is one thing that she definitely wants to highlight about the past six months, and the biggest race of her life, it’s that to Looney, “It is all about the experience, the experience is the most important part,” and that she will “be happy to finish no matter what [time she gets].”
In terms of her final time, Looney admitted, “I’d be excited to break four hours.”
Having run every day since sophomore year of high school, Looney believes she is “not going to know what to do with herself” once she finishes the Boston Marathon.
“I am going abroad next spring and I would like to run some half marathons in different countries,” she admitted. Due to her being away next time the Boston Marathon comes around, Looney will be unable to run it, but she is determined she will “definitely run it again,” in the future.
Donations are still being accepted for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Team. Those who wish to donate can go to Looney’s personal blog why-irun.com to make a donation.