The Boston Marathon dream of Cooperstown Central School graduates Jacob Russell and Patrick Dewey suffered a setback of at least a year, but it has given way to a different opportunity for one of them.
“Basically, Patrick and I, since we ran a marathon, we were hoping to run the Boston Marathon this year,” Russell said. “We did everything they said we had to do to qualify, but they only took eight duos.”
The 2015 Cooperstown Central School graduates are pioneers in a form of running known as adaptive racing. In Poughkeepsie on June 11, Russell and Dewey ran their first marathon, the Walkway Marathon, finishing in 4:10.10.
Dewey, a contributing writer for The Cooperstown Crier, has cerebral palsy. He uses a special chair while racing, which Russell pushes as he runs.
Friends since kindergarten, Russell said they started running this way in middle school because Russell thought his desire to play sports was changing their friendship. Running together — their first race was the 2012 Coop Loop 5K —gave Dewey the thrill of competition he rarely had. In return, he has become a master of encouragement for Russell, they said.
The setback hit them both hard, Russell said, especially at first.
“It was a weird thing, too,” he said. “There were no real standards to be selected. I mean, the times (to qualify) were times for normal runners.”
A time of 3:05 was needed to qualify for the tandem runners, while Russell and Dewey ran in 4:10.10 at the Walkway.
A junior at Harvard, not far from Boston, Russell said he lobbied everyone he could think of for a connection into the race for the two of them. No one could help. However, one group he already had a connection with, the Boston Debate League, offered him another solution: a spot on their team, running solo.
“This is where it is good that we are just juniors,” Russell said. “We hope that if I run this year, then we will be able to qualify next year. Plus it will be good for me to learn the course ahead of time, because a lot of the course is in places in Boston where you can’t just go practice running the course.”
In June, they ran and raised money for Double H Hole in the Woods camp in Saratoga Springs. The camp is a special place for Dewey. Now Russell is raising $9,000 for the debate league, which he said is a passion of his.
“We were all set to raise money for Double H, Patrick’s group,” he said, “but the debate team is something that is important to me. Especially now, I think it is an important skill to have, to be able to debate properly, and to be able to learn to argue while having respect for the other side.”
Russell said Dewey, who goes to Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pennsylvania, is as supportive as ever, even if his own debut in Boston is on hold.
“Pat seems to be pretty happy I am running,” he said. “We were both upset when we didn’t get our spots, but me running this year is only going to help us next year.”