By Cary Shuman
Shelagh O’Connell was a two-year captain in cross country at Winthrop High School, one of the stalwart long distance runners in coach Warren MacPhail’s powerful program.
But 26 miles is 26 miles and that was the challenge facing Shelagh in her first-ever run in the Boston Marathon on April 18.
Shelagh became an official entrant this year, running on behalf of the Town Track Club of Charlestown and raising $3,500 for the charity.
Shelagh, 27, trained for the Marathon with her friend, Amanda Tallent, and they ran the course side by side, completing it in five hours.
“I have to thank Amanda’s brother-in-law, Robert Noonan, who helped me out big time with receiving my official bib (entry) at the Hines Convention Center,” said Shelagh.
Following a stellar cross country and track career at WHS, Shelagh competed for one year at Endicott College before sustaining a foot injury.
“I had to give up running competitively in college but I ran my first half marathon with Amanda and Marie Hamilton in 2013,” said Shelagh. “That marathon (One To Remember) is dedicated to fallen police officers.”
She kept her long distance shoes on and set her her sights on the Boston Marathon, an event that began in 1897 and has become the world’s most famous road race.
What was the best part of her 26.2-mile conquest?
“Crossing the finish line with Amanda. The race is emotionally and physical draining and to be with someone is definitely a push to make it to the finish line.”
Shelagh said she was graetful to the Wellesley College students who line the course and cheer on the runners.
“They were amazing. They were the best fan section besides Boylston Street.”
Shelagh said she will be back at the starting line in 2017.
“I plan on running Boston again next year with Amanda,” said Shelagh, who is an applied behavioral analyst in the Saugus school system.