Eileen Monyahan had a little extra motivation in Monday's Boston Marathon, and it came along at the perfect time.
It wasn't the overflow crowds along the 26.2-mile route -- though she said those were phenomenal. The emotional lift for Monyahan, a 43-year-old home day-care provider from North Adams, came just before the start of the race.
Monyahan ran in memory of U.S. Army Pfc. Michael DeMarsico, the North Adams native killed in action in Afghanistan in 2012. His name and picture were on the back of Monyahan's race shirt, and they caught the eyes of a nearby runner who sought her out.
"He said ‘Thank you for running for him. I was part of the detail that sent him home,' " she said.
"We had just started running. It completely took me by surprise."
A little more than 5 hours later, Monyahan finished her run for DeMarsico, who had played football with her son Jonathan from the time the boys were 5 years old. She spoke first with DeMarsico's aunt, and planned to speak with the rest of the family later Monday night.
"His aunt said it was his way of letting me know he was there," Monyahan said.
In all, 32 runners from Berkshire County ran the world's most prestigious marathon, according to the Boston Athletic Association website. Thirty-one had finished as of 8 p.m. Pittsfield's Stephen Foley was the fastest of them all, covering the course in 3 hours, 1 minute and 53 seconds. He was one of 10 in the Berkshires who ran in less than 4 hours.
Lanesborough's David Wilson was the second-fastest local runner, finishing in 3:08:06. He was followed by Lee's Matt Kinnaman, who ran a personal-best Boston time of 3:12:52.
As he expected, the last 4-5 miles were the toughest.
"The final push in a marathon for me is always such a grind, because of the depletion that accompanies it," said Kinnaman, 53. "I was just thrilled to be done, and to have wrapped it up successfully on a day as special as this one.
"I think I'll kick back for a couple of weeks. I'll just rest and enjoy being done with this."
Kinnaman has run Boston before -- he was one of six local runners who finished last year before explosions near the finish line killed three, injured hundreds more and halted the race -- but he said the support along the course this year was like nothing he'd ever seen.
"You couldn't not be lifted up by that support. It was powerful," he said. "I don't know what the crowds were -- I haven't heard an estimate -- but they were multiple rows deep along the course. It was just a very special experience."
Cara Reilly of Lenox Dale was the first Berkshire County woman to cross the finish line, in 3:28:02. She was one of 16 women of the Berkshires to run Boston this year.
Her average speed and minutes per mile were fairly steady throughout the course, but Reilly said the down ends of the hills really got to her by race's end.
"I felt great up until mile 17," she said.
She'd start to walk, but reminded herself, "Oh, it'll be slower if you do that." So she'd run again.
Two things kept her going -- her faith and the fans.
As she ran, she'd look on the back of each hand, where she'd written Bible verses. She'd also heard the encouragement from people along the route -- specific encouragement, no less.
"I wear ‘Bear' on the front of my [shirt], and ‘Reilly's daughter' on the back," said Reilly, daughter of Lee High School Athletic Director and coach Art Reilly. "If anyone slowed down, they started chanting your name or your bib [number]."
The Berkshire County contingent ranged in age from 29 (Reilly and Lee's Allison Loring, who finished in 4:57:19) to 73 (Williamstown's Eric White, 6:08:56). It also included a number of county natives who have since moved away, such as Lee native Sarah Hickey. The 23-year-old Newton resident finished in 3:27:09.
Monyahan has been training since December, having run the Soldier Marathon at Fort Benning and Columbus, Ga., in November. Fort Benning is where DeMarsico attended boot camp.
She's not going to have very long to rest before getting ready for her next tests -- two half-marathons in May.
"So maybe a week," she said.
Kinnaman will take a two-week break from running. His legs were tired and stiff after Boston, and he expects they'll be stiff for a couple of days. Still, he feels good about his run.
He feels even better about the spirit of Monday's race, and the spirit the people of Boston showed just one year after a tragedy.
"The emergency personnel, the police, the volunteers, the race personnel ... there was a spirit of togetherness," Kinnaman said. "A spirit of ‘We're beating this thing together.' It was really great. A beautiful thing to be a part of."
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The 31 Berkshire County runners who finished Monday's Boston Marathon, as listed by the event's website:
Christina Barrett, 32, F: 4:56:53
Allan Bates, 65, M: 3:24:29
Brian Berkel, 43, M: 5:22:12
John Bosse, 34, M: 4:27:44
Josephine Ellis, 41, F: 5:12:55
Stephen Foley, 42, M: 3:01:53
David Milligan, 53, M: 5:12:55
John Soules, 36, M: 5:14:14
Henry Art, 69, M: 6:31:03
Mary Kennedy, 55, F: 4:10:33
Elizabeth St. Clair, 55, F: 3:46:05
Steve St. Clair, 55, M: 5:09:41
Sarah Voisin, 36, F: 3:46:44
Eric White, 73, M: 6:08:56
Matt Kinnaman, 53, M: 3:12:52
Allison Loring, 29, F: 4:57:19
James Loring, 56, M: 4:55:45
Jennifer Prohaska, 34, F: 5:38:04
Susan Shook, 54, F: 4:59:03
GREAT BARRINGTON (2)
William Boyer, 51, M: 3:30:08
Liz Lierman, 35, F: 4:20:09
Edward Culver, 39, M: 4:42:42
Sharon Kennedy, 40, F: 5:17:17
LENOX DALE (2)
Mary Sheehan, 53, F: 3:57:35
Cara Reilly, 29, F: 3:28:02
Melanie Bessette, 50, F: 4:18:26
David Wilson, 52, M: 3:08:06
NORTH ADAMS (1)
Eileen Monyahan, 43, F: 5:09:58
Tammy Charbonneau, 50, F: 5:12:23
Allison Lassoe, 51, F: 3:52:40
Mark Kinney, 49, M: 5:24:45
Out-of-area runners with Berkshire County ties include:
Eric Flossic, 35, M, Tulsa, Okla. (Pittsfield native): 5:21:26
Gregg Carlo, 39, M, Boston (Pittsfield HS graduate): 4:14:36
Sarah Hickey, 23, F, Newton (Lee native): 3:27:09
Rachel Flynn, 27, F, New York (Pittsfield native): 5:36:48
Kelly Southard, 35, F, Chicago (Pittsfield native): 5:40:27
Jonathan Cluett, M, Williamstown (running as guide for Maya Jonas of Toronto): 4:55:35
Thomas Murray, 30, M, Roslindale (Wahconah Regional HS graduate): 4:15:01
Emily Mareb, 29, F, New York (Monument Mountain HS graduate): 2:52:24, 62nd overall among women
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