Morgan Sokol runs by Currier House in the rain.

Ignoring the inclement spring weather that brought sleet and snow to parts of Cambridge, Morgan Sokol ’24 runs across the Radcliffe Quad as she trains for the Boston Marathon.

Photos by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

For the young at heart, and fleet of foot

6 min read

Harvard runners take on the Boston Marathon

At the bottom of the incline that steadily rises to become Heartbreak Hill, one of the toughest parts of the Boston Marathon course, stands a statue of Johnny Kelley. Twice winner of Boston, runner-up a record seven times, and top 10 finisher 18 times, Kelley dominated the race for decades with both his performances and his infectious, exuberant spirit. The statue depicts two versions of Kelley, the 27-year-old after his first Boston win, holding hands with his older self, after running the last of his 58 Boston Marathons at age 84. “Beyond the personal achievements of one man, this sculpture is a dedication to the spirit of everyone who is Young at Heart,” the plaque reads.

As this year’s Harvard-affiliated runners can attest — despite ranging in age from 20 to mid-50’s — they are all young at heart.

Sean A MacDonald runs.
Sean MacDonald finished last year’s Boston Marathon in 2:29, which placed him in the top 100 finishers out of 30,000 runners.

Sean A. MacDonald

Harvard Athletics, Graduate Intramurals Coordinator

“I believe running is the perfect format to push myself physically, while being able to get outside and see new and beautiful places. As my good friend succinctly says, ‘Running is the ultimate moving meditation.’ It is the best way for me to clear my head and process things going on in my life. The Boston Marathon is always one of my favorite days of the year! I have been lucky enough to run the past three years, and I would love to run my fastest Boston yet in 2024. My favorite running-related experience has actually been coaching other people to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Running in this race is such a big dream for so many people, and it is an honor to help them in their journeys.”

Morgan Sokol ’24, framed by portraits of eminent Currier House women, is running this year’s Boston Marathon.
Morgan Sokol ’24, framed by portraits of eminent Currier House women, is running this year’s Boston Marathon.

Morgan Sokol ’24

“As a senior, I wanted to experience a special Boston tradition before I leave, something challenging, and that’s why I’m running Boston. It’s a reprieve for me. Writing my thesis, it helps me clear my head. And I’m happier when I run. Until I started training for this, I’d never run more than 3 or 4 miles. I used to think marathoners were insane, but I’ve had to reassess that. Now that I’m trained and confident about this marathon, I think I’d like to run more!”

Kieran McDaniel ’27 crosses the Weeks Footbridge.

Kieran McDaniel ’27

“I run to find balance and ease my mind by taking a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Running has introduced me to some of my best friends and has given me discipline, making me a better learner in the classroom as well. Depending on the run, it can make me feel calm or energized … but it makes me feel hungry without fail! When I come back, I am on good terms with myself and ready to build on the momentum to have a productive day. It has been my dream to run Boston since high school. My goal is to beat my previous time of 2:53. I have fond memories of running with my dad to the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. He is always my primary running/life coach, and I still get out for runs with him whenever I can!”

Molly Roache

Harvard University Health Services, Clinical Dietitian

“With running there’s a sense of enjoyment, it helps me lower stress. I grew up watching the Boston Marathon with my family in Wellesley and later when I was in college at Framingham State, so I always wanted to run it. I have run a half-marathon, so I do have some long-distance experience. My goal is to finish, ideally with my sister Katy. I’m so fortunate to have generous friends, since I need to raise money in order to race. I’ll be running for the MGH Pediatric Cancer team.”

Molly Roache is running this year’s Boston Marathon with her sister, Katy Meehan.
Katy Meehan hopes she and her sister will finish the run hand in hand.

Katy Meehan

Molly’s sister running to benefit Mass Eye and Ear Hospital

“I played ice hockey in college, and only started running to get in shape for my sister’s wedding. Running Boston was always on my bucket list. I’m running Boston to raise money for Mass Eye and Ear Hospital, where I had two surgeries as a child. I’d never run more than 4 miles until I started training, but our team has two experienced coaches who have been great shepherding us along. This will be my first road race ever. My goal is to finish, hopefully side by side with my sister!”

Jenny Hoffman is pictured alongside a chalkboard.
This will be the 11th marathon for Clowes Professor of Science Jenny Hoffman.

Jenny Hoffman

Clowes Professor of Science, Department of Physics

“I love to turn my mind off and listen to audiobooks. I love to have an intimate running conversation with a good friend, or to get to know a stranger through a running chat. And running serves as a good foil for my job. As a manager of a large laboratory with dozens of students I sometimes suffer from crippling decision fatigue, and it’s hard to turn my mind off, even to sleep. But when I run, I can turn my mind fully off and I know that my hard work will pay off. Why run Boston? It’s a 26-mile party. I do a lot of solo running, but now and then, it’s fun to have the energy of a large crowd. This is my 11th time running Boston. My goal is just to requalify for next year.”

Dan Lieberman and Jenny Hoffman run outside in the rain.
Professors Dan Lieberman and Jenny Hoffman train on a rainy day at Fresh Pond Reservoir in Cambridge.
Dan Lieberman is pictured in his office.
Dan Lieberman cites Boston as “one of the great marathons of the world.”

Dan Lieberman

Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences; Chair of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology

“I had some high school experience with running but didn’t get serious about it until I was in my 40s. Running is a fun way to spend time with friends, and of course (as an evolutionary biologist) I study it, so I want to put my money where my mouth is. But mostly I enjoy it, and it makes me feel good. Why run Boston? Because it’s one of the great marathons of the world. And since the bombings in 2013, when you run Boston you’re not just running for yourself, but for the larger community.”

Statue of Johnny Kelley that depicts two versions of Kelley, one at age 27 after his first Boston win, holding hands with his older self, after running the last of his 58 Boston Marathons at age 84.
Statue of Boston Marathon great Johnny Kelley on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton. The statue depicts two versions of Kelley, one at age 27 after his first Boston win, holding hands with his older self, after running the last of his 58 Boston Marathons at age 84.