Local Alison Wells sets a new PR at the Boston Marathon

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, April 26, 2023

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Since 1897, the Boston Athletic Association has organized a Boston Marathon, and for the past 126 years, the race has brought millions to Boston, Massachusetts to partake in the yearly spectacle that is filled with triumph, pageantry, and history. This year, Bainbridge local and former SEC runner Alison Wells not only competed in the 2023 Marathon, but shattered her goals as she was supported by her mom and dad, husband John, and one year old son, Ethan.

In September, Wells qualified for the Boston Marathon and since then, has been diligently training for the event. Although she was doing everything athletically, Wells was also able to take time to enjoy the event. From the community to the city of Boston, Wells’ experience was surely once-in-a-lifetime.

“Overall, the experience was nothing short of incredible,” said Wells. “The atmosphere was exciting, welcoming, and inspiring. I loved seeing the running community all around the city, wearing their celebration jackets and in high spirits to take part in such a historic, well-earned event. Honestly, I expected to have a really great time, but you never really know how great it will be until you fully experience it. I loved every moment.”

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Going into this race, Wells had multiple goals that went beyond just reaching a specific time. Setting multiple goals is something that Wells has been able to learn through her experiences and interactions with different runners and coaches throughout her years of running. For Wells, her goals for the day were to run a sub-2:55 and run with confidence and joy. Wells did just that as she battled a damp course and came into the finish line with a 2:48 time which was good for the 71st overall female, in a race that featured thousands of competitors.

“When I crossed the finish line at 2:48:55, I was ecstatic,” said Wells. “I felt strong and controlled the whole race (of which I owe all to my encouraging friends and the prayers prayed over me before and during the race!), and although I saw that my pace was faster than intended, I knew that I could keep it up. Also worth mentioning, I am very proud of my mindset, and will take a similar mindset with me into every future race. I ran with joy and confidence, ignoring any discomfort, and just focusing on the distance and the runners ahead, as well as the amazing spectators all around, cheering the entire way. Overall, I could not have asked for a better day.”

The Boston Marathon can be one of the most physical and intimidating courses around, featuring inclined hills mixed with the unpredictable early April weather in the Northeast. Despite those elements, Wells was prepared and actually thrived in the chilly temperatures that Southwest Georgia doesn’t receive on the regular.

“Mist and light rain definitely dampened the pre-start area and the roads along the way, but warm up clothes and a pancho saved my life and energy until the start,” said Wells. ‘It did not rain throughout the race, until I had just two miles to go, and actually ended up being great weather for most of the run! 50 degrees and cloudy is actually perfect for a long distance race.”

“From miles 16-20, there are four steady inclines, infamously known as ‘The Newton Hills’, with the final hill called ’Heartbreak Hill’. At this point in the race, fatigue from the first half of the race usually starts to set in anyway (even on a flatter course), and with Boston starting downhill, the use of different muscle groups throughout the first half can really get to you over the Newton part of the course,” said Wells. “Thankfully, they weren’t as hard as I anticipated, but they still presented a good challenge. Once you’re over Heartbreak Hill, it’s mostly downhill to the finish, but you still have 6.2 miles to go, so it’s pretty rough at that point as well. Mentally, I just broke it up into smaller distances and focused on each present mile, rather than the larger amount remaining.”

Something that was extremely important to Wells heading into the race, was being able to soak in the moment. Naturally, athletes are instilled with a competitive mindset and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. For Wells, being able to relish the opportunity and stay in the moment was a vital part of her experience.

“I just felt extremely blessed and eager to soak in every moment,” said Wells. “I can get pretty competitive with myself, and I always want to perform well and improve. Many times, if I had a ‘bad’ race, I would feel really disappointed. However, with Boston, I promised myself that no matter what, no matter how I felt, if I felt my absolute best or completely bonked, I would enjoy every moment. Thankfully, I was very pleased with the outcome anyway, but I think that that mindset, that promise to myself to truly have FUN with it, spurred me on to an even better outcome than expected.”

For Wells, everything came full circle as she crossed the finish line and was greeted by her family to cap off a day that saw dreams come true and records broken.

“I would speak to the amazing community of it all. I loved experiencing that dream come true with my family (husband, kiddo, mom, and dad) right by my side. I loved basking in the sea of runners the entire weekend and getting to hear and learn from some of my favorite professionals in the sport. And, last but certainly not least, the support and cheers from the spectators along the entire course. They really made all the difference, and I don’t know if any other race can truly compare.”