Three reasons why you should run the Boston Marathon for Special Olympics Massachusetts

Corinne Genova is a health and physical education teacher at Somerville High School, who had always dreamt of running the Boston Marathon. When she found out that she could combine her passion of running with her love for Special Olympics Massachusetts, the rest was history. 

   Here are three reasons why Corinne ran the Boston Marathon with the Special Olympics MA Xtra Mile Team:

1. The mission

When registration for the 2022 Marathon opened, Corinne received offers from other organizations to run with them; but she always knew running for Special Olympics Massachusetts was what she wanted to do.

“I have a younger sister with Down Syndrome, and she has always done the Special Olympics bowling program since she was young,” said Corinne. “I’ve also coached some Special Olympics programs and I was a Special Education teacher for a long time, so all of these reasons sort of came together.” 

But when she shared the fundraising goal with her husband Derrick, he wasn’t quite as sold.

“I had some other offers with lower fundraising goals, so I actually agreed to run with Special Olympics before I told my husband,” she said. “He was definitely freaking out about the fundraising goal; but I told him this was something I’ve always wanted to do, and I told him I could do it.” 

Corinne wasn’t worried about the $10,000 goal at all. She used the fundraising tools provided to her by Special Olympics Massachusetts, as well as her own fundraising projects and research. 

“Stephanie [AVP, Development – Fundraising & Partner Engagement at Special Olympics MA] gave the runners ideas of how to raise funds, and Special Olympics provided me with a toolkit of different things to do,” Corinne said. “I reached out to every single person I knew. Even if I played softball with them once, I wrote a handcrafted letter to each person, not just copy and pasting the same letter.”

Corinne said she probably sent over 200 letters to people sharing her Marathon story. She also went door to door in Woburn to different restaurants asking for gift card donations, which she then raffled off at various fundraising events she hosted.

“Ultimately, I was running the Marathon for my sister. I just love Special Olympics and everything they do for the athletes. I knew I could raise the money and I did,” she said.

2. The training

Running a marathon in and of itself seems intimidating; but choosing to run the Boston Marathon specifically can be even more draining due to the unpredictable New England weather (yes, the Marathon happens rain or shine) and the rolling hills. But if you train for the Marathon as a Special Olympics MA Xtra Mile runner, you’ll be given the tools needed to finish the Marathon at your highest level. 

“Boston is known for how grueling it is,” said Corinne. “But beating the challenge of doing something you think is hard, or that you couldn’t do before, is a cool accomplishment to be a part of.”

Special Olympics Massachusetts has a partnership with Heartbreak Hill Running Company, which helps train our Xtra Mile runners for the daunting 26.2 miles.

“[Heartbreak Hill] was a great community, and I still follow Coach Dan who had great tips. I’m really grateful for that connection,” said Corinne. “I took screenshots and saved every single workout of every day and it just builds up your mileage; so any time people say, ‘Oh I’ve done a half-marathon, but I could never run a full,’ it really just comes down to training your body.”

Corinne even commented on the yoga for running, strength, and core workout videos that Heartbreak Hill would upload, which helped with her training journey. And while it’s not an individualized training program, Coach Dan held Wednesday night question & answer sessions that our Xtra Mile runners could attend.

“I would play these calls back as a podcast on my way to work, which was super helpful,” said Corinne.

3. The community

From scheduled Zoom calls, to Brewery meet-ups and brunches, the Xtra Mile Team had a variety of ways to get to know each other before Marathon Monday.

“It was really cool that the Zooms kept everyone connected, and a few events were really great that I was able to attend,” said Corinne. “Community is always good. I heard stories from people that lived all over the United States who were part of the Xtra Mile Team, and just hearing their stories and learning why they’re running for Special Olympics just reinforces your own ‘why.’”

At these different gatherings, the team was able to not only connect with each other, but also with other members of the broader Special Olympics Massachusetts community, including athletes, employees, and of course President & CEO Mary Beth McMahon. 

“I actually remember meeting Mary Beth at the breakfast on the morning of the BAA 5K, and I was just blown away,” said Corinne. “It was just awesome, feeling like the [Xtra Mile] Team was really that important to the organization.”

And after watching Corinne go through all of the training, attend different Zoom calls, and receive some awesome swag, who do you think expressed interest in running the next Marathon? 

“After all that, my husband really wants to run the Boston Marathon for Special Olympics MA.” So, who knows… maybe we’ll see Derrick on the course next April.

Corinne with her two children (Gavin, left and Isla, right) while still en route during the 2022 Boston Marathon.

Do you know someone who is interested in running the Boston Marathon or an avid runner who would love to support the mission of Special Olympics Massachusetts? Visit our Xtra Mile Marathon information page: https://gameon.specialolympicsma.org/2022-boston-marathon-application

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