A week ago the entire nation was rocked by a pair of explosions – acts of terrorism – that went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Since then, one alleged suspect is dead and the other is in custody and has been charged. The country has rallied together behind the city of Boston, and countless acts of strength have been on display.
Wednesday night on the Blake Track, Springfield College junior Ben Kissam circled the track 105 times, equaling 26.2 miles all in an effort to raise money for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
For the marathon length run, Kissam was not alone. Almost from the start, SC students, faculty and other members of the community ran alongside him, motivating him to continue his cause.
“Springfield College is amazing,” Kissam said moments after he finished. “Here is the only place where something like this will happen. Where people will come out and run a lap with somebody. I couldn’t be happier that I go to this school.
“I wouldn’t have finished without the diversity that I got today, so to everyone that even ran a lap with me, thank you because you kept my mind [on] it.”
There’s no telling what exact time he finished the race because of several breaks he took, with the last coming with only two miles remaining. He also took a breather to snap a photo with his brother, Hunter, who ran a half-marathon Wednesday evening. Local news stations also halted his jog, and Kissam was happy to accommodate the local media.
In the last stretch, Kissam was joined by his roommates, friends and others just inspired by his endurance. For the final lap, Kissam ran with the American flag wrapped around his shoulders.
“It was amazing,” Kissam said. “The last two miles all I thought about was what I was doing it for. [I] started getting a little emotional towards the end. I’ve never finished that strong before.”
Kissam is not a stranger to long runs, even ones further than 26.2 miles. The Grafton, Mass. native has competed in ultra-marathons, which can range from 50 to 60 miles. However, it had been some time since he had gone that distance.
“I haven’t ran further than three miles since April of last year,” said Kissam.
The idea started with Kissam and his roommates – Ryan Pek, Andrew Clazone, Sean Hutchison, Cam Robidoux and Dan Rotatori. They originally anticipated about 50 people attending the event, but thanks to social media, the event received considerable attention.
“Before we knew it, it spread like wildfire,” Pek said. “Everyone on campus was just so supportive of it.
“We wanted to take that initiative and do something special.”
Most of Kissam’s roommates are from the eastern part of the state and even did a half-marathon themselves, which was the longest run for many of them.
“He’s incredible,” said Rotatori, one of Kissam’s oldest friends. “I’ve seen it before. A lot of people haven’t seen it before, so they’re blown away by this. I knew he could finish it.
“I love it. The school has shown support and our spirit has really come through; the spirit that Springfield College always talks about.”
The event was sponsored by the Sports Management Club, with the Physical Education Department loaning water jugs for the evening.
“I saw a lot of $20s in that thing, man,” said Kissam, who also has an online fund to gain more donations.
“We’d like to probably hit two grand,” Pek said. “A lot of people who came didn’t just have cash. They were talking about checks and online transfers and stuff like that.”
The motto of Springfield College is Spirit, Mind, and Body, and for more than four hours on Wednesday night, Ben Kissam displayed that with step after step. This week is circled on the calendar for almost every Springfield College student. It’s Sti-Yu-Ka, a week of relaxation, enjoying the weather and forgetting that finals are around the corner. None of that was more important for Kissam, who wanted to show his support in any way he could.
“Priorities, man,” the Physical Education major said. “The world stopped last week.”
Minutes after finishing a marathon, Kissam was asked if he had ever run the Boston Marathon.
“No,” he responded. “But I’m planning to.”
“I want to. I hope so.”