The Tufts University marathon team ran the Boston Marathon this year in order to raise money for childhood nutrition research.
It was 32-year-old Ph.D. candidate and English instructor Jason Clemence’s first time running the race, and as someone who grew up in New England, he said “running that homestretch on Boylston St. was the coolest moment of my running career, hands down.”
“After I’d gotten a water bottle, but before I got a finishers medal, the first explosion went off,” he said. ”I thought it might have been a celebratory cannon or musket firing, like what happens when the Pats score a touchdown.”
He said he was fortunate enough to be able to immediately contact his wife, but reuniting with her was a longer process as he was “hustled down” to the public gardens, which right after finishing a marathon, led to him “lying immobilized on the ground.”
“I was rescued by a wonderful couple who had been there to watch the race,” he said. ”They gave me orange slices and water, helped me get up and try to walk again, and even took my phone and kept trying to contact my wife.”
After four hours, and continued assistance from the couple, he was able to reunite with his family in Somerville, Mass.
Clemence, 2 months after the events in Boston, will be competing in the “Beat the Heat” race this Saturday in Scottsdale.
He said that he hasn’t been deterred from racing, noting that the Scottsdale race will be his third since the events in Boston. ”I’m constantly looking for new ways to challenge myself.”
People close to Clemence said that they are not surprised he hasn’t taken a step back from racing.
“He’s probably one of the most eager and ambitious runners you’ll ever meet,” said Donald Megerle, Clemence’s trainer at Tufts University.
Diego Millan, a fellow Ph.D. student at Tufts, described Clemence as a fierce competitor, as well as “an extremely conscientious person.”
He said that, not only is he not surprised that Clemence has decided to compete in Scottsdale so soon after the events in Boston, but also that ““I bet, if he doesn’t run the Boston Marathon again next year, he’ll run it some time soon.”
Clemence’s ties to Arizona are through his wife, 35-year-old Tianna Tagami, a longtime Phoenix resident who also wasn’t surprised that the events in Boston didn’t halt her husbands competitive nature.
“It’s a part of his physiology to be a runner, so I can’t imagine anything that would deter him from running,” she said. ”He’ll actually get grumpy if he doesn’t train every day.”
Clemence said that running in “triple diget heat” offers him the type of new challenge he is looking for.
“I actually really like running in the heat from time to time,” he said. ”It makes me feel like I’ve earned the workout a little more.”
Training to run in the heat has required a different training regimen, he said.
“As soon as I arrived in Phoenix, I drew up a compact training plan to acclimate the heat,” he said. ”My first day here, I ran to the top of ‘A Mountain’ in Tempe at 3 p.m., that was really hard.”
Clemence, as well as those close to him, are confident he will do well in the race, although he said that he acknowledges that “the field is going to be competitive,” drawing in big name athletes that include former Olympians and world record holders.
“If I can finish in under 45 minutes, I’ll be very pleased,” he said.