Running in Boston

ALTON – Only around one percent of the human population starts and finishes an entire 26.2 mile marathon.

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Rose Brandt is 59 years old and ran her first marathon in 2017. It was in Champaign, Illinois. She qualified for Boston.

Before running marathons, Brandt was 318 pounds and in terrible health. In her own words, she had nearly every weight-related condition someone could have without being terminal. To keep her from that breaking point, her doctor suggested that she lose weight. So, she started walking. At first, she walked about a mile around Brighton with family members. Then, over time, after experiencing progress, she upped her walk to five miles – but it was time-consuming.

“I said I was going to start running instead, so it took less time,” she said. “They laughed and said I couldn't run, so I did. I started running.”

At first she ran a mile, then she ran the entire five miles, then started going even longer distances. Soon she was training for her first marathon. That was her ticket to Boston.

Before her weight loss

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Currently, Brandt has around a half dozen marathons under her belt and is looking forward to running in the Cowbell in St. Charles. She weighs just under 120 pounds and is in much better shape than she was less than three years ago. In fact, she said she was able to lose a majority of that weight in a year.

Her biggest event is still running in the 2018 Boston Marathon. She said she arrived into the city this past April and immediately got nervous.

“You could see the wind blowing the rain and trees sideways,” she said. “It was cold. The conditions were so bad, a lot of big-time runners and professionals dropped out of it entirely. That made me feel good that I was still going to run it.”

And run it she did. Brandt made the entire 26.2 miles in some of the worst conditions the Boston Marathon has thrown at its runners. She said the group had to leave in a massive wave, because the staging area was degrading due to the cold and wet weather.

When she was down to the final three miles, Brandt said every step was miserable. She had contracted hypothermia at that point, which she described as a feeling of an egg cracking atop her head as drippings of frigid cold down the side of her face and scalp.

Brandt after weight loss

“I finally crossed the finish line, and I had to make sure I crossed the finish line,” she said. “I was leaning against a wall, and they had to put me in a wheelchair, because I was starting to stumble. That's when the nurses gave me hot soup and took off my clothes and wrapped me in a metallic blanket. There were people around me on cots with IV drips in their arms. At that point, I felt pretty good. It was a tough race.”

Brandt is still running. She said she sometimes trains with a group of Alton runners who sprint hills across the city every Tuesday morning at 5 a.m.

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