Katie Efird’s Boston Marathon dream comes true

Published 12:10 am Thursday, April 20, 2023

Katie Efird, a 35-year-old mother of two small children, had a dream.

“I’ve wanted to run the Boston Marathon for as long as I can remember,” she said. “My dad ran Boston in 1975 and 1987, and I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps. Even at a young age I knew the Boston Marathon was something special, and I knew it was difficult to qualify, which was appealing to me. I’ve always liked a challenge, but I didn’t fully appreciate the race and its history until later in my adult life.”

Besides her dad, both older brothers were also runners. Katie started doing fun runs at 5 years old and the highlight of her week at school was running a mile in PE on Mondays. The family spent many Saturday mornings at local road races.

“I think I ran my first 5K when I was about 7 or 8. Over the course of my life, my running has ebbed and flowed depending on the season I was in, but I’ve always considered myself a runner,” he said. “Scripture tells us to run with endurance the race that is set before us, and one of the reasons I love running so much is that it’s so analogous to the Christian life.”

Efird stays home with her two kids, ages 3 and 6, and homeschools the oldest, while her husband, Caleb, works for Food Lion. Caleb started getting into running a couple years back and joined his wife as they ran with other local runners.

She said, “Running regularly with others gave me fresh excitement and passion for running, and my friends encouraged me to try to qualify. Boston is a favorite for runners, and I heard them say what an incredible experience it is.”

After watching a documentary on the Boston Marathon, Efird became fascinated with the history of the race. She read more about Boston’s early beginnings, rich history and especially about the tragic 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. She was moved by how the 2014 event became even more unifying and patriotic for the city and the runners. Three people were killed and over 500 injured near the finish line.

Entry into Boston requires a qualifying race and Efird did hers at the Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary last year.

“I have been training for Boston for 20 weeks using a plan from the Boston Athletic Association. I am blessed to have completed the vast majority of my training runs with friends,” she said. “Whether it was grinding out hill repeats, putting in speed-work at the track, or spending a few hours on a Saturday morning long run, someone was always willing to join me. On cold dark mornings, it’s easier to get out of bed knowing I had friends waiting for me.”

Katie and Caleb Efird flew to Boston on Saturday and had a jam-packed schedule before returning home on Tuesday. Katie is Rowan’s only Boston Marathon entry this year, but she is grateful to experience the race in person. She said, “This Patriot’s Day marks 10 years since the bombing, so significant to me to pay tribute to those affected that day, especially the runners and first responders. I got to run on the same exact roads that so many other amazing athletes have competed before!”

And run she did, Efird fulfilled her dream on Monday by completing the 127th Boston Marathon. She clocked 3 hours, 17 minutes and 33 seconds on a rainy and cool day amid 30,000 other runners. Boston was her fifth marathon.

“For the first 10 miles, my cheeks were hurting from smiling so much and there were tears of joy,” she said. “We had rain at the start, then it stopped, but then it poured from about mile 19. Yet I was thankful for the weather because some years it has been freezing or very hot here.”

Unable to pick any particular takeaway from the race, she added, “I heard there were 10,000 volunteers and everybody was just so special. The whole race experience completely exceeded my expectations. The references to a unified Boston were everywhere. I loved the ‘Boston Strong,’ ‘One Boston’ and ‘Stronger Together’ signs along the way.”

On her plans for the future, Efird said, “I’m doing the Half Ironman Triathlon in Wilmington this October.” And if she’ll go back to Boston, she added, “Caleb is going to try to qualify for next year, and if he does, I want to be there too.”

Both overall winners were Kenyans, with Evans Chebet winning the men’s race in 2 hours, 5 minutes and 54 seconds. Helen Obiri took the women’s title in 2:21.38.