CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — For runners, the Boston Marathon’s “left on Boylston” marks an emotional moment, the culmination of the sport’s pinnacle event. This year, one local father-daughter duo will mark the memory together.
Charleston resident Robert Morgenstern and his daughter Jessie Hogue-Morgenstern are among about 30,000 entrants in this year’s 127th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17.
“I get a little bit emotional thinking about it, because it’s something I’ve wanted to do so long,” Hogue-Morgenstern said, “and I get to do it with my dad. I’m very, very excited to run it with him.”
After running many marathons together, including world majors New York City and Chicago, both runners secured their Boston-qualifying (BQ) time at the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 21, 2021.
For 63-year-old Morgenstern, it marked the third time he achieved a BQ, and he said he found greater joy in witnessing his daughter, a 2006 George Washington High School graduate, attain her first.
“I’m just so excited for her,” he said. “It’s neat to have your child, in this case my daughter, work at something and achieve her goal. Kudos to her for staying with it and doing the training, not just the running, but the strength training that’s necessary to get that qualifying pace.”
Hogue-Morgenstern, a 34-year-old resident of Washington, ran a 3:23:30 clocking at Philadelphia, safely finishing ahead of her 3:30:00 requirement for Boston.
“All the pieces came together,” she said. “I didn’t realize it was going to happen until maybe 2 miles before the finish, and at that point, I knew I could almost walk it in and still qualify. It was just an amazing feeling.”
The road to this year’s Boston began almost 20 years ago for Morgenstern.
“The Charleston Distance Run is actually what got me started running long distances,” he said. “I had been running shorter distances before that and, for me, running was just a way to lose myself in thought and also to deal with stress.
“I started running marathons in 2006, and my daughter came to a couple of my first marathons, and then she started to do a half-marathon, and we actually ran her first half-marathon together. I think my running — I know my running — got her interested, and I’ve done 20 marathons now, and I think she’s done eight or nine or 10, something like that.”
Both runners will share the joy of traversing Boston step for step, and they will also each run with hearts full of emotion in remembrance of Robert’s wife and Jessie’s mother, Mary Hogue, who died of breast cancer in December.
“Obviously, the thought was that she would be there when we both got to run it together,” Jessie said, “and so the fact that’s not happening is weighing on our minds.
“We’re definitely going to be emotional, and we talk about it a lot, because it’s good to talk about and not keep it all in. It will be emotional, but I’m glad I will at least be able to be there for him, and he will be there for me.”
Robert said although his wife didn’t take up running herself, she recognized how it brought people together, including her husband and daughter.
“My wife always referred to marathons, especially those who take it seriously, as a cult,” he said, “and the bond that we have developed through running is very, very strong, and it’s something that’s going to keep us close for years to come.”
The journey from Hopkinton to Boston measures 26.2 miles, as any other marathon, but when father and daughter turn right on Hereford, left on Boylston, the pair will eye the finish line simultaneously and share in concert all the emotions that accompany the final strides.
“When you cross the finish line, it’s such an emotional experience,” Robert said, “no matter if it’s your first, 10th or 20th time. It’s just very emotional.”