Teacher finishes messy Boston Marathon

Standing in a school just outside of Boston on April 16, gazing out at a steady rainfall and listening to the wind, the usual indicators of a spring Nor’easter Massachusetts were enough to rattle John Turssline’s nerves a bit.

runner: John Turssline stands outside the Southern Delaware School of the Arts.Coastal Point • RUSLANA LAMBERT
John Turssline stands outside the Southern Delaware School of the Arts.

The fact that he was about to run more than 26 miles also contributed, of course. But he had run in the Boston Marathon before; he had already experienced the marathoner’s Mecca. In the middle of a cold, wet and windy day, it would just be a bit harder this time. (And that’s not to mention missing a bit of training due to the birth of his second child, a girl, in late February.)

“When you arrive and you sit in the high school, you really can’t relax,” Turssline said, adding that racers “couldn’t stretch your legs out in the tent,” where most gathered to escape nature for a bit before the battling it for a few hours on the road.

In the tent, Turssline said, he and all the other racers did their best to remain warm, stretching to relieve the last kinks in their legs — another potential natural enemy on the course of 26 miles, 385 yards, which ends in the center of the historic city.

Turssline began the epic race with more than 20,000 runners, leaving behind roughly 3,000 who signed up but did not run the race — likely due to poor conditions. The Southern Delaware School of the Arts teacher and Dagsboro resident ran — at some points shoulder-to-shoulder — with entrants from 55 countries and 67 others from Delaware alone, 60 of whom finished the race despite nasty conditions.

Turssline said that, once out, the wind did not pester him as much as a steady rain, which soaked his shoes and feet, leaving him a bit wetter and likely more susceptible to foot pain and weakness throughout the race.

And that’s not to mention the chilliness.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures dipped into the mid-40s as nearly an inch of rain fell on Boston last Monday.

Still, Turssline finished in 3 hours, 16 minutes and 39 seconds, topping last year’s time by nearly 8 minutes. It was 9 minutes slower than his qualifying time, recorded at the Philadelphia Marathon in November – and more than an hour behind the winner – but not to much displeasure, though, taking into account the unforgiving conditions of the day.

“This time isn’t really an indication of how well I ran this year; it was an indication of how poorly I ran last year,” said Turssline, who made the trip alone this year because his wife stayed home to take care of his not-even-2-month-old baby. “I was kind of training for good weather. I didn’t quite do what I wanted. It wasn’t pleasant by any means.”

Slower-than-expected finishes seemed to be the norm last Monday, with the winner of the 2007 race posting a finish 7 minutes slower than his winning time last year. Turssline said that next year he hopes to return in search of a sub-3:10 time, a bit better weather and with his family — though by all accounts this year’s trip was not to be regretted.

“Unfortunately, when the weather acts up like that, it’s easy to say, ‘I’m not going to be able to perform my best.’ That’s kind of the initial approach,” Turssline said. “It kind of takes the pressure off too. That being said, it was a lot of fun and I look forward to getting out there next year and doing better.”