BOSTON — Joy and pain and grit and regret, all wrapped up in a reflective cape to ward off a chill wind and increasingly persistent rain.

That was the 119th running of the Boston Marathon for a handful of notable Maine runners Monday.

Kristin Barry, 41, of Scarborough placed fifth among female masters to win $1,000 on a damp and chilly Monday, but was wiping away tears at the finish line for her close friend and training partner, Sheri Piers of Falmouth, who dropped out in the 15th mile because of calf and hamstring issues.

Spencer McElwain, a Caribou High and University of Maine graduate who recently moved to Arundel, turned in the fastest time by anyone from Maine, 2 hours, 34 minutes and 3 seconds. That made him 122nd among all men and, a year after tearing his hamstring at the top of Heartbreak Hill, grateful to finish in good health.

At age 57, two-time Boston champion Joan Benoit Samuelson of Freeport won her age group for the third straight year, in 2:54:03.

“It was a good race for people who trained here in New England,” said Samuelson, with a nod to the brutal winter. “I would have rather had snow than rain. Something about snow being insulating and rain just being raw.”


It was 44 degrees and relatively dry in Hopkinton when the elite women took off 28 minutes before the first of three waves of 10,000 runners. After pulling away from Piers in Mile 8, Barry encountered her friend cheering from the sidewalk at Mile 20, having dropped out and hopped in a car.

“She saw that I started crying,” Barry said. “I could tell she had been crying. She was like, ‘Do it for me!’ I feel awful for her.”

Barry’s time was 2:49:32 – within three minutes of the masters winner, Liza Hunter-Galvan, a New Zealander who lives in San Antonio.

Piers said she felt certain that had she been able to stick with Barry, they could have worked together to pick off the four female masters who finished ahead of Barry.

“What a nightmare,” said Piers, whose calf left began complaining in Mile 3 before being shouted down by an even more problematic hamstring.

“I felt like a car that had things slowly falling off it,” she said.


Well-meaning spectators offered support and encouragement to Piers, 43, the top American woman in the 2012 race. Somehow that made her feel worse.

“It was so sad,” she said. “The crowd’s trying to help you. They’re saying, ‘You look great! You can do it!’ I’m like, ‘I am six minutes behind where I need to be! What do you mean I’m great?’ ”

Piers spoke of embarrassment and humiliation for having quit in a race for the first time, particularly since Boston holds such fond memories. This year, she said, was going to be her last.

“I can’t go out this way,” she said, “but I may have to.”

McElwain, 25, knows something about how Piers feels.

He watched his father run this race in the 1990s. He spent 16 weeks training for his 2014 debut at Boston only to have it unravel in the hamstring injury that he reaggravated in a fall marathon.


“I did less mileage so I wasn’t going for a big (personal record),” he said afterward.

“I just wanted to finish and not get injured. I felt it here and there but I think that’s just scar tissue.”

Intestinal issues prompted McElwain to stop twice for bathroom breaks, which he had never done during a race before. So his time could have been much faster.

Not that he cared a whit.

“This race, nothing can compare with it,” he said.

“It’s hard not to smile. Especially running through Kenmore Square, it’s hard not to get emotional. This is just so fun.”


Christine Irish, 40, of North Yarmouth felt similarly.

Running as a masters elite for the first time at Boston, Irish practically glowed outside a finish-line tent after posting a time – 2:52:28 – only seven seconds off the personal best she set her a year ago under more favorable conditions.

“Last year there was a tail wind and this year there was a head wind,” Irish said. “So I’m exceedingly happy. I felt like that was a massive win for me.”

Irish enjoyed reconnecting with Kara Waters, a childhood friend from Falmouth who attended college (at Colby) and medical school (at Dartmouth) with Irish before settling in Virginia.

They shared a morning bus ride and ran together for 14 miles before Irish moved ahead, eventually finishing two minutes before Waters.

“I saw some dear friends of mine who were working at the 14-mile water stop and they were cheering and it was a really great boost,” Irish said.


“I knew my fiance was going to be at 17 miles with my kids and my mom, and they were there, and I just figured, ‘I’ve got to get through Mile 17 feeling good and then we’ll see what happens in the hills.’ And I felt great.”

Samuelson said she felt great Saturday seeing fellow Mainer Ben True and Rhode Island native Molly Huddle set American records in the Boston Athletic Association 5K race amid clear skies and bright sunshine.

On Sunday, an ankle-calf issue bothered her enough to consider not running on Monday, particularly with a wet, cold, windy forecast.

“But you know, you sort of need something to worry about before a marathon or it’s not a good omen,” she said.

“I went back to an old pair of tried and true racing shoes. And that’s what comes with experience. If you’re having issues because of something new, go back to what worked.”

Samuelson said she tightened up coming out of Cleveland Circle but knew that she had enough of a buffer to stay under three hours.

When the head wind became especially fierce or the rain particularly chilling, she drew inspiration from her mother’s recent health challenges.

“She’s been in the hospital for four weeks and is now almost ready to leave rehab,” Samuelson said.

“This one was for her.”

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