Running the Boston Marathon is a mental and physical challenge — but for Jennifer Anstead ’97, who ran it for the fifth time this year, there are others facing bigger challenges.
She ran for the Massachusetts General Hospital Pediatric Oncology team, which pairs its runners with a patient partner — Anstead’s was a 7-year-old girl whose brain cancer has been in remission for about a year.
While running for the pediatric oncology clinic is a worthy cause, she says, “Someday I hope to never have to run for them. Someday I hope there are not enough kids in the clinic to go around.”
Anstead, who is a nurse at Mass General, keeps that in mind each marathon. “When I get tired I just think about why I’m running, think about the patients who are so young and don’t know a life without being sick. I tell myself, whatever I’m experiencing right now will go away when I stop, but their pain will be with them for much longer.”
At UNH, Anstead played rugby. She started running when the demands of her career made team sports a challenge to schedule.
Then you get there and it’s almost like anything that’s been bothering you, it just washes away.The best part of the 26.2 miles? Right before mile 20, the infamous stretch called Heartbreak Hill.
“It’s really emotional. By the time you get there, the aches and pains, they’ve really set in. Then you get there and it’s almost like anything that’s been bothering you, it just washes away. Everyone is cheering and so supportive. It just fills you up. When you leave mile 20, your tank is full.”
Originally published in UNH Magazine—Spring/Summer 2015 Issue