Kopacs at NY Marathon finish line
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Kopac's Corner

A 2004 Boston Marathon Conversation

by Bob Kopac

With the 2004 Boston Marathon 85-degree heat and humidity, I expected runners after the race to resemble the cast of Night of the Living Dead. However, when I talked with Ed Fitzmaurice, Tony Ferreri, Kevin Roach, and Kevin Dollard at the runners' meeting area, they appeared as if they had just finished a leisurely training run-amazing for a group of guys who placed 7th in the Master's club division.

Ed: I tried to hit 21 [minutes] every 5K. That's what I was looking to do. And, for the most part, I did until it got really hot and nasty at the end. I started getting a little slower. It's always toughest for me coming down the hills after Heartbreak Hill. Going up, I was okay. I was passing a lot of people. And then they [legs] just locked up. I backed off a little bit, I kind of relaxed, and then I was able to pick it up here and there. And once you take that turn onto Boyleston Street, all of a sudden I can kick it a few more gears, and I passed a few more people coming down there.

Kevin D: I saw you pass. You and I saw each other. Of course, your stride is obvious to me. You came up beside me. Then Tony [Ferreri] goes by me, and as soon as he goes by me, I say "That's Tony. I know his stride too." But I didn't have enough energy to say Hello or Good Luck or anything. I was just like, "Oh, there goes another one."

Ed: I hit every fire hydrant, every hose, 3 or 4 cups of water [at each water stop]. After 21 miles, that was hard for me because there were no more fire hydrants. And I really needed it. There was one, and I went through, and I kind of stopped and got drenched. But that saved me. If I had that the last 2 years [at previous Boston Marathons] I might have done better.

Kevin D: The first 3 miles were like 6:45's [minutes per mile], and I said, "You know what? I thought I had ratcheted it down, and it's not working." So then I said, "I'm really going to do it." Then I was right around 7's, and then basically I tried to stay under 8 for the most part of the race until I got to the later miles. And then I was in the mid-8's.

Tony: I was in a crowd early at 7:30's so pretty much I was locked into a 7:30 pace for the first 4 or 5 miles, at which point I said, "Oh well."

Kevin D: You made up a lot of time, though, because you were in what corral?

Tony: 6. [Runners are placed into different staging areas at the start based on their minutes per mile average.]

Kevin D: So you made up a lot of time. You had a great race.

Tony: It's Boston. You've got to be feeling good!

Ed: I think we all might have been [in the] top 1000, top 1200 [finishers].

Kevin R: That was some amazing screaming at Wellesley [women's college]. Those girls were screaming so loud!

Kevin D: At mile 8 I'm feeling terrible, and Ed comes up looking fresh as a daisy, and he wants to chit chat. And I'm going 'Go on, get out of here, will you?' He's saying, 'I'm just knocking off 7's, and I'm right on track.' I look at my watch, and it's like, 7:45 I hit on that mile. I wound up getting in a group. I got a nice group. In the later miles I was in the 8's. I'm happy to get through it. What was your time?

Kevin R: 3:09.

Kevin D: That's attitude. When you're not even close to that edge, you can just click them right off. It will be cooler in Burlington, even though it's Memorial Day.

Ed: At Falmouth [marathon], my body temperature was 108 degrees. They put me in a tub of ice. They were all amazed. I was the big talk of Falmouth after the race. People would see me on the beach and say, "You were the 108 guy!" So I know how badly I do in heat. Temperature on the [Falmouth] course was in the 80's, and my body went to 108 degrees. If you do it for a little while, that's death. There's a big hill as you finish, and I saw Joan Benoit Samuelson, so I had to pass her. So I passed her, got to the line-it's a Guy Thing. If it was right at the end, I wouldn't have passed her, but I passed her at the top of the hill and just sprinted it in. They looked at me and asked how did I feel. I said "Uhhhh." So they said, "Right over to the tub." And they put me in. It was 15 minutes before my temperature got below 100 degrees. So I knew to take it a little bit easy today."