For the first time in its 124-year history, the Boston Marathon has been canceled. The news was a crushing blow to thousands of runners including one Grand Blanc woman who dreamed of running the race since she was a teen.

Jessica Whittemore Bearer, a local optometrist, has been dreaming of running the the acclaimed race since she was a teenager growing up in Massachusetts.  An avid runner, BearerI ran track and cross country for her  high school teams and competed in Division 1 running at Syracuse University. Now 30 years later she was about to make her dream come true.

Bearer had trained strongly through the winter of 2018/19 in Michigan. Along with her husband and two daughters, she headed to Arizona for her qualifying race. She would wait until September of 2019 to find out if her time was good enough to take her to Boston. She learned her 3:36:25 time would seal the deal and that the race she dreamed o being part of was just months away.

Photo: Jessica Whittemore Bearer

Once the pandemic began to sweep the country the original date of April 20 was postponed  to September 14. Bearer said that news was a bit of a blow since she had ramped up her training for the big day. She felt as if she had worked for nothing."I was notified in March that the marathon had been postponed until September. All my training was for not. You can’t maintain that kind of training for 6 more months. Well not when you are an optometrist and a wife and a mom of two kids." Her family stepped in to support her and she refocused and adjusted remembering why she started in the first chase her dream.

As the world adjusted to a new normal, Bearer also made some changes."My 2-3 hours of training a day quickly turned to 20-30 minutes a day and lots of online schooling." After all, she had qualified to run in one of the most iconic races in the world.

Thursday, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said that the Marathon, which draws more than 30,000 runners from around the world, was “not feasible” this year. “There’s no way to hold this usual race format without bringing large numbers of people into close proximity," he said. "While our goal and hope was to make progress in containing the virus and recovering our economy, this kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on Sept. 14, or anytime this year.”

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Although there will be a virtual type race organized by the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the world’s oldest annual marathon, it just won't be the same for Bearer. "Finding out today that Boston Marathon 2020 is cancelled is a kick in the gut of course. They have to do what they think is the safest for everyone involved. I’m still in a bit of disbelief that it happened in my year."

Photo: Jessica Whittemore Bearer

Runners who had registered for the race, which has been held every year since 1897, will be offered a full refund of their entry fees, the BAA said. As for Bearer, she says life will go on and doesn't rule out trying again."Life goes on and I will try to show my daughters that disappointments are part of life and goals are important no matter how long they take."


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