By Marty Gordon
After running since the eighth grade, Blacksburg’s Jennifer Fleming has fulfilled her dream of running in the Boston Marathon. She finished 587th overall (out of 15,381 and 51st female (out of 7,439) in a time of 2:47:38.
“Back in April, my friend (and fellow 2021 Boston Marathon finisher) Michael Stowe told me that they were holding the race in-person in October and encouraged me to apply,” Fleming said. Her qualifying time from the Richmond Marathon in 2019 (2:56:05) was still viable for Boston in 2021.
This was her second marathon including the Richmond event, but she hopes to do many more.
Fleming was blown away by everything associated with the Boston Marathon both on and off course.
“Never in my life have I seen so many people absolutely losing their minds, screaming at the top of their lungs at people jogging down the street,” she said. “The entire 26.2 miles, there were people crying out endless encouragement; waving creative, hand-made signs; blasting music as loud as their speakers could go. It was an amazing and electric atmosphere and the perfect distraction from the pain in my legs.”
The bigger picture convinced her she would love to do it again.
“But I would also like to try out other marathons or even some ultramarathons,” Fleming said. “ I have a long bucket list. It’s always exciting to see new places, and racing is a great excuse to travel and have a guaranteed adventure.”
Fleming began running in the seventh grade when she didn’t have soccer practice, but in the eighth grade she made running her sole sport.
“I ran all throughout Blacksburg High School with legendary coach James Demarco and two years at Virginia Tech before stepping away from the team due to a serious hip injury,” she said. “I began swimming and biking more to cross-train through that injury and joined the Virginia Tech Club Triathlon Team my last two years at VT.”
At that point, she found that her hip could handle the balance of training across three sports a whole lot better than just one.
Thus, she started slowing down her running pace, finding out she could run longer without pain, which led to the Richmond and Boston events.