By Greg Gulas
The Boston Marathon was first run in 1897 and is held on Patriots’ Day (the third Monday in April).
The holiday commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord which were the very first battles of the American Revolutionary War.
To many, the holiday has become known as “Marathon Monday” and while that first race attracted just 15 runners, this year’s 117th running is expected to attract more than 27,000 entries, with participation from Mahoning Valley qualifiers easily topping that initial field.
Four local runners who admit that running wasn’t their original sport of choice will brave today’s fickle New England weather, hoping to navigate the grueling 26-mile, 385-yard course (42.195 kilometers) with different goals in mind.
Ready to run are Michael Maillis, Cory McCusker, Amanda Fire and Scott Yakubek.
Maillis, an attorney, is the seasoned runner of the group and at age 44 will be running his fifth Boston event and 39th marathon overall.
A 1986 graduate of Campbell Memorial High School, he is also a Youngstown State and University of Akron School of Law graduate and a member of the Kisling, Nestico and Redick law firm.
He qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon by running 3:10:43 in the Erie Marathon last September, He already has y qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon by running 3:15:57 last November in Philadelphia.
He’s qualified for Boston every year since 2008 (in 2010, he was denied registration since the field was already filled), running a personal best 3:16:32 that first year.
He trains by running 52-65 miles per week.
“I never considered myself a good athlete,” Maillis said. “I hit seventh on the baseball team and was really just another player on the team.
“I think we start running and begin to exercise because we’re aging and out of shape,” he said. “Once you start running you fall in love with the sport and while you initially get in shape, it also provides a release from any job related stress.
“I have two goals, the first being to finish under three hours and 20 minutes while my second goal is to just cross the finish line,” Maillis said. “If I can do both then I will have the biggest smile of anyone on my face.”
Yakubek, a 1997 Salem High graduate and Allegheny College alum, serves as director of information systems development at PMC Systems.
He played basketball for the Quakers and earned four letters as a member their tennis team.
“I didn’t run cross country or track in high school or college; instead I began running after graduation because while I felt like I was in shape, I was beginning to feel out of shape,” Yakubek said. “Once I started running I wanted to run a marathon and having now run 15 marathons I’ve achieved my goal.
Yakubek will be running his third Boston Marathon and also has two ultra-marathons to his credit.
He qualified this year by running 3:01.06 last June in Canton.
“My goal is to break three hours and while Boston is the toughest course that I have ever run, I’m prepared both mentally and physically for the challenge,” Yakubek said. “I’m really excited about this year’s event and hope to run a personal best.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m a 12 right now in preparation.”
Fire, 31, is a Leetonia High (2001) and 2007 YSU grad who is marketing coordinator for Boardman’s Hill, Barth and King accounting firm.
She earned four letters playing softball and volleyball for the Bears, yet never started running until three years ago.
“I started running initially to stay in shape and shed a few pounds,” Fire said. “Someone suggested that I run in the [Youngstown] Peace Race so I entered that race and other 5Ks and local races and had a lot of fun.”
Fire qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon by running 3:34.15 last May at the Cleveland Marathon.
She has already qualified for 2014 by finishing last October’s Towpath Marathon in 3:27:30.
“I’m a ball of excitement yet a ball of nerves at the same time,” Fire said. “First and foremost, I want to enjoy the experience because three years ago I would never have pictured myself on this stage.
“I’d then like to break 3 hours and 15 minutes at the Columbus Marathon this fall.”
McCusker, 37, is an emergency room nurse at Salem Community Hospital and has been running a little more than four years.
A 1994 graduate of Springfield Local High School as well as Kent State University, East Liverpool branch, he qualified by running 3:08:53 in Cleveland. Like Fire, he has qualified for 2014 by running 2:59:30 at Towpath.
He played football and baseball scholastically and while he was one of the faster players on the team, never considered competing in track and field or cross country for his alma mater.
“I looked in the mirror one day and noticed I was trending toward the heavier side of things,” McCusker said. “I said to myself right then that I had better get into shape in order to set an example for my family and kids.
It’s a decision I have never regretted,” McCusker said. “I knew it was a big commitment but my goal back then was to run the Boston Marathon. Four years later and here I am.”
The race status of Boston Marathon runners may be obtained by visiting www.baa.org.