Neighbors gather as Mike Collin completes a virtual Boston Marathon in front of his house on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. He raised $5, 000 for the Boston Children’s Hospital as a part of the run, which he finished in a time of 3:19:43. “It definitely wasn’t my fastest, but not my slowest either, so I am psyched with that”, he said. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

It’s not the real Boston Marathon, but few things this year are as they’re supposed to be.

From Sept. 7-14, runners who had qualified for the 2020 Boston Marathon are competing in their own 26.2-mile continuous runs. They will submit their times to the Boston Athletic Association, and, in that way, complete the 124th (and first virtual) Boston Marathon.

“Honestly, I do think I see it as my first Boston Marathon,” said Jasmine Boyle, 26, a Brunswick native, former University of Southern Maine track athlete, and Portland resident who will log her 26.2 miles on Sunday with four friends. “We will submit our times and they’ll send us medals. Obviously it won’t be the same but, at least in my case, I haven’t experienced what I’ll be missing, at least from Boston. I’m sad to miss it, but glad we will get to make something out of it for this time.”

Runners cannot use their virtual times as a means to qualify for future Boston Marathons, but the virtual race will be counted in the official start and finish files.

The Boston Marathon, with a 31,000-runner field, was originally scheduled for April 20. It was postponed in March in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, then canceled and turned into a virtual event in May. The virtual race is open only to runners who had already entered.

Boyle said she and friends Ariel Perry Mallon of Portland, Brienna Denecker of Portland and Kylee Parker of Westbrook are all excited to participate in the virtual event. For each, 2020 was supposed to be their first Boston Marathon and each had earned their bib with a qualifying time in the range of 3 hours, 15 minutes to 3:26.


A fifth friend, Katie Mauro, 28, of Portland had initial reservations about a mock marathon. Mauro had experienced the full Boston in 2016 and 2019, with another nine marathons on her resume including a personal-best 3:19:11 in Keene, New Hampshire.

“When it was converted to a virtual race, I basically decided I wasn’t going to do it because it’s a lot of training, and it takes a lot of time but I ended up doing it because of my friends,” Mauro said. “All the ladies running are awesome, and fast.”

Mauro and Boyle said they will be helped along the way by a large group of friends and family, with designated water stops set up and a festive finish line area.

Neighbors gather as Molly Collin sets up a finish line for her husband Mike, who finished in 3:19:43. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Michael Collin, 46, of Portland ran his virtual and decidedly low-key marathon on Saturday morning. Collin, who has run three previous Bostons and 11 total marathons, had the assistance of his wife and teen daughters, who worked their way in front of him to make sure he had water.

Collin is an accomplished marathoner, with a personal best of 3:09 at the Maine Marathon and a 3:20 clocking at Boston.

Collin is running for the Boston Children’s Hospital Miles for Miracles team. It’s his fourth year participating in the fundraising efforts for the renowned children’s hospital. He said he had raised his needed contribution level by February and then continued to fundraise when the race was postponed, then canceled.


“But with COVID, it was a hard time to ask people for money,” Collin said.

As the virtual race neared, the public relations consultant looked in the mirror at his mop of hair that hadn’t been trimmed since January and saw a marketing idea.

“I upped the fundraising ante, with my hair,” Collin said. For a small donation, people could vote on whether Collin should get a buzzcut or keep growing his hair until January 2021.

Mike Collin hugs his wife Molly after completing a virtual Boston Marathon. Collin used the event as a fundraiser for the Boston Children’s Hospital. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

He’s now raised more than $5,100 and “it looks like I might have really long hair in January.”

How and where the virtual runners choose to complete their one-day 26.2-mile run is up to them. It could be done on a quarter-mile track (ugh) or a treadmill (double-ugh).

Collin and Mauro, the mapmaker for her group, both chose more attractive and authentic options, designing their own courses that each turned out to pay a bit of tribute to the traditional point-to-point course from Hopkinton to Boston.


Collin broke form with a loop course. He’s essentially went out his front door in Portland’s Rosemont neighborhood and made a big counter-clockwise circle, with the early miles in the Old Port, up to Falmouth and then west and south through Westbrook, South Portland and back to his house.

He said his course has elevation similarities to Boston’s.

“It’s pretty flat for first several miles, then starts to climb and there are kind of three main hills, which is kind of like Heartbreak Hill, which is really three hills and the last one is Heartbreak. It’s a little reminiscent that way,” Collin said.

Collin finished his race Saturday in 3:19:43.

Mauro decided her group should do a point-to-point course, with some challenging hill sections, and a theme would make it better.

“It’s the Lighthouse Edition. Well, that’s what I’m calling it,” said Mauro, a Michigan native. The women will start and end at beaches (East End in Portland to Higgins Beach in Scarborough) running to Bug Light, Spring Light, Portland Head Light and Two Lights State Park along the way.


“It’s a pretty scenic route. I did that for us but also for the friends and family who are going to come out and support us,” Mauro said.

It will also be an opportunity for the women to get to know each other better, as they plan to run together. Because of the pandemic, concern for social distancing, and their own busy schedules, they have never run as a full quintet, staying in touch and motivated through their social media circles.

Will it be “the real” Boston Marathon? No. But that does not mean the effort was without value, Boyle said.

“It definitely gave us purpose throughout – I hate to use the phrase ‘with everything that’s going on’ – but especially with the quarantine and everything getting canceled, as a runner, I could put a date on the calendar in September and there was a reason to get out the door every day.”

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