Before running in the Boston Marathon together, Badgers Lindsey Kong and Gabe Stanek met at the Rose Bowl in 2011 and ran the CrazyLegs Marathon as students.
“We ended up talking about running and when we came back from the Rose Bowl. We made a couple plans to go running just as friends,” Kong said. “Then we made a bet on who would win CrazyLegs, so that kind of spiraled down and one thing led to another.”
The pair, who are now engaged, ran their first marathon in 2012 before qualifying for last year’s Boston Marathon and getting wait-listed, Kong said. Race officials hold a person’s spot for two years and returning to participate meant a lot for the couple.
“It’s one thing knowing that technically you could have been in that race and if you are a runner, you are impacted by the tragedy no matter what since it is such a historical and monumental race,” Kong said.
Kong said she “got the chills” and that it was an honor to be alongside so many runners knowing what it meant to be a part of such an event.
The strength the other runners had to move forward was impressive, which made it a unique experience, she said.
“There were always chants of ‘Boston Strong’ or ‘USA’ and a lot of people thanked us or congratulated us just for helping the race move forward and go on,” Kong said. “More so when you got into the city and closer to where you knew the bombs went off, it was really emotional.”
For Kong and Stanek, the last few months were mainly focused on the upcoming marathon. In their preparation, Kong said their main goal was not to achieve a personal record, but to enjoy the experience and take it all in.
During Kong’s undergraduate years at UW, she ran distance running on the track team. Although she battled injuries throughout her collegiate career, she said she became a better person and runner because of them.
Kong completed a degree in human development and family studies. She currently is in a graduate program in physical therapy and said she would like to work in pediatrics upon completion.
Stanek is from Massachusetts and worked in Boston for a year and a half, so the couple is familiar with the city. It was nice to run in Boston and appreciate the pride and the emotion that were felt from all the citizens, Kong said.
“It is exciting to look forward to [the next race] after this experience, it really makes you think and appreciate being able to go out there and run, and it puts everything in perspective,” Kong said.