Team UNICEF makes strides in Boston’s 120th Marathon

April 22, 2016

Hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic fans lined up along the sidelines of the 26.2 mile course to cheer on runners during Boston’s 120th Marathon on Monday, April 18th, 2016. The bright sun and 69 degree weather were ideal conditions for spectators but made it tough for the 27,491 runners, who were faced by a moderate but persistent headwind.

This is the first time in the race’s 120 years that Ethiopian racers won both the men's and women's divisions. Lemi Berhanu Hayle, 21 years old, won the men’s race at 2:12:45, making him the youngest Boston winner since Shigeki Tanaka won at the age of 19 in 1951. In the women’s race, Atsede Baysa, 29 years old, crossed the finish line in an unofficial time of 2:29:19. Baysa says, “I was confident that I was going to do it. I knew I had the energy and the power.” Both Baysa and Hayle are hoping their victories earn them a spot on the Ethiopian Olympic team.

Three years after the marathon bombings, Patrick Downes and Adrianne Haslet-Davis, two runners who lost parts of their legs in the bombings, ran the course on a prosthetic leg. I feel like I’m celebrating the body that I have left, and it feels spiritual,” Downes told The Boston Globe before the race. “It feels triumphant.”

This year's race celebrates a half-century of women competing in the marathon. On April 19, 1966, Bobby Gibb became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, at a time when there was no women’s division and females were considered by many to be physically incapable of running 26.2 miles. She had to sneak into the race wearing her brother's Bermuda shorts and a hoodie covering her long hair. Baysa dedicated her trophy to Gibb, who was moved to tears, and accepted the trophy on the condition that in a year she’ll go to Baysa’s native Ethiopia and return it to her.

A lot has changed in the marathon since 1966. Unlike Gibb, Baysa not only didn’t have to jump out from behind any bushes at the start line, but she also earned the same $150,000 as the male winner. Additionally, more than 12,600 women started the race this year, and more than 12,100 finished. According to the Boston Athletic Association, more than 175,000 women have completed the race in the last half-century.

Apart from this year’s race marking 50 years of women competing in the marathon, it is also the year 27 incredible men and women ran for Team UNICEF. The team raised a total of $142,747, with the average donation of $121. A donation of $93.60 provides 15 malnourished children with lifesaving nutrition for 5 days. In other words, Team UNICEF raised enough funds to provide more than 22,876 malnourished children with lifesaving nutrition. Go Team UNICEF!

Kaia Miller Goldstein, one of this year’s runners, admits, “Ok, last year when I ran the Boston Marathon for UNICEF I said "Once and then I'm done!" But here I am again!  UNICEF and Kid Power are unbelievable causes to support and I'm proud to be running again. Tired, but proud!”

A big congratulations to all the team UNICEF members who participated in the marathon: Kaia Miller-Goldstein, Kristen Angeletti, Susan Bippus, Madelyn Cantarow, Jeremy Cole, Gina Galantino, Mary Mattheis, Gary Rosen, Christopher Schaffner, Matthew Bane, Kate Brizius, Veronica Farrell, Justin Hagen, Amanda Howland, Kristina Majewski, Shanell Mosley, Ian O'Keeffe, Amanda O'Malley, Courtney Quinn, Phil Telfeyan, Eileen Callahan, Annie Halvorsen, Rob O'Neill, and JB Sorge.