The 121st Boston Marathon was a memorable one for at least three East Carolina University alumni.
Tim Meigs ’89 won his age group. Dionne Evans ’95 ran her second Boston after finishing her first one in 2013 just three minutes before the first bomb went off near the finish line. And Louis Kinlaw ’04 ran his first Boston and was wearing his Pirates hat all 26.2 miles.
“I was pretty excited,” Meigs said about his time. “I didn’t know until I got my cell phone out of my gear bag and checked text messages. My wife had texted me and said that it looked like I had won.”
Meigs graduated with a biology degree and is part of the biology department’s advancement council. He is a patent lawyer for Becton Dickinson and lives in Raleigh. He’s a relatively new runner, having started running about 10 years ago, just before he turned 40.
“I ran a little bit in high school but not particularly well. It was kind of like a midlife crisis sort of thing getting into it later,” he said with a chuckle.
Now 50 years old and having finished nearly two dozen marathons, Meigs ran this year’s Boston Marathon in 2:41:48. That time was the fastest in his 50-to-54 age group, which comprised 2,205 male runners. He finished 221st overall, out of 30,074 runners. He had previously finished third in 2012 and fourth in 2013 in the 45-49 age group at Boston. For his victory, he received a vase trophy during the awards ceremony and the opportunity to run his ninth Boston Marathon next year.
“Given the stature of the race and the amount of competition, I’d say this one is probably the biggest one (win). I’d probably put this one at the top of the list,” Meigs said. “It’s kind of fun to be able to do this. Hoping I can run another one and go back next year and run well there, too, but you can’t take these things for granted.”
Like Meigs, Evans ran Boston in 2013 and had completed the course when the first bomb exploded. She was about a block away from the blast.
“I was close enough to feel it, hear it, see the big plume, hear the people screaming at the finish line,” Evans said.
This year she said it felt like she had come full circle when she crossed the finish line.
“I was crying uncontrollably and I couldn’t stop myself. There were people coming up to me, hugging me because they knew the story because I had run part of the race with them,” said Evans.
Evans graduated with an exercise sports science degree and is a personal trainer at Champions Health & Fitness in Greenville. She has always been physically active but decided to take up long distance running only about 10 years ago with some friends. That first half-marathon has now turned into 13 full marathons.
“I just love it. The way I feel mentally, just the sense of accomplishment. I just don’t get that anywhere else,” she said.
Temperatures this year were in the mid-60s when the race began – warmer than what most long distance runners prefer. Evans said she struggled to get to the finish line because of the warmer temperatures and is not happy with her time of 4:29:44. However, as she closed in on the final meters of her run, it was all worth it.
“When you hit Boylston and you hit that finish line, I’m getting chills just thinking about it because it’s so overwhelming,” Evans said. “My goal now is to qualify for 2019.”
All along the Boston streets, Pirate pride was welling inside of Kinlaw. He graduated from ECU in industrial technology and is an engineering group leader with Bosch Home Appliances in New Bern. Every race he runs, he wears one of his East Carolina hats. Even though Boston is a long way away from Greenville, he didn’t feel far from home.
“You just have 26 miles of people just cheering you on. At least every couple of miles I’d hear a ‘Go Pirates’ or a ‘Go ECU’ or something like that,” Kinlaw said.
This was Kinlaw’s second marathon. He qualified for Boston during his first marathon. He said he’s always been a runner but got into long-distance running four years ago with a half-marathon, like Evans. While Kinlaw’s Boston time of 3:22:50 would be many runners’ personal best, he is looking to do better the next time.
“It was painful at the end, but it was probably one of the best experiences of my life,” Kinlaw said. “When you turn onto Boylston Street for the finish, there are thousands of people there. It was a pretty surreal moment for me – pretty emotional to see that and to experience that.”
-by Rich Klindworth