Kingston runners participate in 127th Boston Marathon in honour of late friend
On Monday, Apr. 17, 2023, a group of 18 Kingston runners made the trek to Boston, Massachusetts for the 127th Boston Marathon, one of the crown jewels in long-distance running. For the Kingstonians who travelled to the famed event, this year’s race carried a special significance.
Not only did Monday’s race mark the 10th anniversary of the 2013 Boston bombings — a tragic attack which killed three and injured hundreds at the race finish line — but this year’s event also occurred nearly one year after the sudden death of Kingston’s Kevin Dunbar, an avid runner and defence lawyer. Less than two months after completing his first ever Boston Marathon, with a time of 03:09:59, Dunbar passed away due to heart-related issues on June 5, 2022, at 47 years of age.
Dunbar’s sudden passing hit Kingston’s running community hard, leaving his friends and fellow racers devastated. So, the Kingston runners making the trip back to Boston this year wanted to commemorate their late friend while paying tribute to him through the sport he loved.
“A number of us ran in 2022 in Boston, and that was Kevin’s first time running [the Boston Marathon]… So we were able to share that experience with him last year, and obviously with his unfortunate passing, going back to Boston again just felt appropriate,” said Trevor Cornelius, one of the members of Kingston’s running community who travelled to Boston for this year’s marathon.
On the eve of Monday’s race, Cornelius and others met at the race finish line to honour and pay tribute to Dunbar, an event that carried added meaning given the anniversary of the 2013 bombings. “The finish line is a special place in Boston and particularly this year… but it’s just a generally special place where there’s lots of emotion, and we wanted to gather there and pay tribute to Kevin. It was great to have everyone there and share that moment on Sunday before the race.”
The tributes continued on race day, as Cornelius and others honoured Dunbar with a special sticker on their bibs. “When [Kevin] passed away, there was sort of a graphic created, which was a heart with the Irish flag, homage to [his] heritage from Ireland… We felt like Kevin was there with us, alongside us, during the race.”
Cornelius was able to draw on his friend’s memory for inspiration throughout the gruelling race, as the runner finished the marathon with a time of 03:17:26. “It was a very emotional experience the whole way… just to gather as much inspiration as we could and finish the 42.2 [kilometres],” Cornelius said. Of the contingent of Kingston-area runners, Robert Almas posted the best result of the day with a finishing time of 02:48:21, which placed him 1,526th overall, or 59th in his division.
Kingston’s running community is a tightly knit group of people, and Dunbar was known as a steadfast supporter of all runners, so his loss has been difficult for many. According to Cornelius, during this year’s trip to Boston, the entire group was able to take up Dunbar’s legacy, as they supported one another on and off the race course.
“Every time we race these events together… it’s a very supportive group, and we pull for each other and support one another. That really goes back to Kevin’s legacy, as well. I can remember times when he would drive to races in Perth or wherever, and he wasn’t even running, but he would come just to support others. That was the kind of person he was.”
Kyle Harding, another Kingston runner who made the trip to Boston, echoed Cornelius’s sentiments regarding Dunbar’s support of the local running community: “His positive energy always lifted up others around him during tough workouts and at local road races.” Harding finished the 2023 Boston Marathon with a time of 02:57:59, or 3,127th overall.
“Kevin was one of the kindest, most selfless people I’ve ever known,” noted Elaina Raponi, who finished Monday’s race 299th in her division, with a time of 03:02:31. “[Kevin] didn’t think twice about helping someone in need, be it a friend or even a relative stranger. I’m a better person for having known [him], and he continues to inspire me to be a better version of myself, both inside and outside the sport of running.”
Aside from Cornelius, Almas, Harding, and Raponi, 14 other Kingston-area runners took part in this year’s marathon. A breakdown of their results is as follows:
- Teagan Robertson – 02:53:01
- James Torrie – 03:01:39
- Robby Breadner – 03:05:12
- Molly Steer -03:07:00
- Scott Day – 03:11:17
- Stephen Callahan – 03:14:28
- Clare Murphy – 03:15:50
- Gregory Lemoine – 03:18:41
- Emmanuelle Leblanc – 03:20:18
- Shannon Seley-Bell – 03:27:37
- Courtney Green – 03:34:34
- Nicholas Morrow – 03:48:10
- Olga Bougie – 03:43:48
- Monique Sauve – 04:15:02
With the 2023 Boston Marathon now in the books, Cornelius said members of the Kingston running community are likely to return again in 2024, as they continue to look for ways to honour their late friend and fellow competitor. “I think there will definitely be a large group continuing to go back for next year. Given the significance of running with Kevin in 2022, I think it’s always going to be a moment of reflection… and tribute to Kevin’s memory going forward,” he said.