Tim Ritchie fights through injury to finish Boston Marathon for first time

  • Northampton resident Tim Ritchie runs the final stretch of the Boston Marathon down Boylston Street. The UMass cross country coach finished the race in his third attempt after being derailed by weather last season and the bombings in 2013. STAFF PHOTO/ KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 4/15/2019 9:25:25 PM

BOSTON — After 25 kilometers, Tim Ritchie just wanted to finish.

The Northampton resident started his third Boston Marathon on Monday. Ritchie battled a right hip injury for the past two weeks, almost shutting down his mileage to heal.

“I went back and forth with my coach all week. We were trying to figure out if it was going to be the safe choice,” he said.

They made the call Sunday to go for it.

“If it was any other race, I wouldn’t have gotten on the start line,” Ritchie said. “Because it was Boston, I felt this internal call to give it a shot.”

Weather cut short Ritchie’s race last year, and the bombings halted him in 2013. Once he decided to start the race, Ritchie committed to finishing it. He was part of the John Hancock elite field and took the course at 10 a.m.

“I was having a good race through probably 25 kilometers. At that point it wasn’t gonna be my day,” Ritchie said.

His mile splits hovered around 5 minutes through that point, but afterward they ballooned above 6:30. He averaged 5:32 minutes per mile for the race.

“I was pretty committed to clicking off the miles for as long as I could. It’s a special race. I tried to enjoy it as much as I could pushing through the pain,” Ritchie said.

His body made it over the finish line. Ritchie completed the race in 2 hours, 24 minutes, 54 seconds. He placed 44th, but getting to the end of the course mattered much more than his time or placement. As he approached the finish line, the public address announcer informed the crowd he was from Northampton, and the spectators roared for a runner from Massachusetts.

“There’s always a fraction of disappointment when you round the corner down Boylston and you can’t charge down it triumphantly, you’re kind of just taking as many steps as you can to get there,” Ritchie said. “The crowd was extremely supportive, you could’ve been the first finisher, the last finisher, they were going to give you everything they had.”

Though he didn’t have his best day, Ritchie appreciated the strong showing by American runners. Scott Fauble placed seventh (02:09:09), and Jared Ward was eighth (02:09:25).

In the women’s field, Jordan Hasay was third (2:25:20), Desiree Linden fifth (2:27:00), Caroline Rotich sixth (2:28:27) and Lindsay Flanagan ninth (2:30:07).

Ritchie doesn’t have any races in his short-term calendar. He’s focusing on getting healthy and his day job: coaching at UMass. The Minutemen have the Atlantic 10 track & field championships the first weekend in May.

Once he heals up, Ritchie will turn his focus to the Olympic Marathon Trials in February in Atlanta.

MISH TOPS WMASS — Hadley native Brad Mish finally ran the Boston Marathon he always believed he was capable of. He finished 41st overall in 2:24:35, both personal bests by far. He was the top finisher from western Massachusetts.

“I just kept feeling good. It was crazy, I don’t know what happened today,” Mish said.

Mish, running on the BAA team, had run strong half marathon splits before and approached his 1:12:37 split warily.

“I kept being like ‘OK you’ve been though half with this sort of time before.’ Eventually I got through the hills,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to blow up. Let’s go on the attack.”

He caught up to a runner in front of him and ran behind that athlete for a while before he told Mish to just pass him. Mish felt the strain of the race around Mile 20.

“It wasn’t easy anymore,” he said. “I kept trying to do the math as I’m running.”

He’d been running on the track well leading into the race and trained well with his BAA teammates. Mish recently missed his best 5K time from college by a second and thought to himself, “might as well try for the marathon.”

It was his fifth Boston Marathon overall and first since 2016. Watching the race as a spectator the past two years didn’t make him miss running it.

“I hadn’t been to it that much” since moving to Boston in 2010, Mish said.

After such a satisfying performance, Mish said he plans to focus more on 5Ks. There’s less at risk. If he has a bad race he can take a week off and try again.

“This is the type of (marathon) time I always thought I could run,” Mish said.

TOP LOCALS — Daegan Miller, of Turners Falls, was the top male runner from Franklin County in 2:58:32.

Apryl Sabadosa, of Westfield, was the top female from western Massachusetts, finishing in 3:15:00.

Amy Rusiecki, of South Deerfield, was the top female from Franklin County in 3:22:23.

Kimberly Krusell, of Northampton, was the top female from Hampshire County in 3:29:31.

MARATHON MAN — Bill Romito, 65, of Leeds, kept his streak alive. Romito finished his 33rd straight Boston Marathon in 4:50:53.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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