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Georgia Southern graduate student gets 'Boston Strong'

Georgia Southern graduate  student gets 'Boston Strong'

Georgia Southern graduate student gets 'Boston Strong'

Georgia Southern grad student Sara Ro...

    Georgia Southern University graduate student and marathon runner Sara Rothberger will graduate this May with a master’s degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology — skills she relied on after she qualified for the 2013 Boston Marathon, but couldn’t run because she missed the deadline by two months.
    In that race, terrorists set off bombs near the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. The attacks fueled Rothberger’s motivation to run the 2014 race where she achieved her best personal record.
    “My relationship with running is a little bit different from most people,” Rothberger said. “To be honest, I actually used to hate it, but I taught myself to like it over the years.”
    In pursuit of a healthier and more active lifestyle, Sara turned to running as an undergraduate student, completing half marathons and working at a running store.
    She “caught the bug” and began competing in marathons to push her physical and mental limits. “The Boston Marathon is kind of like the World Series for recreational runners. Qualifying for Boston is as good as it gets,” she said.
    The 24-year-old native of Madison, Wis., moved to Statesboro in the fall of 2012 to further her education in the university’s Health and Kinesiology program.
    Although she missed the deadline to race last year, that didn’t stop her from watching it live. She watched the entire race and when the bombs went off near the Boylston Street finish line, she was in disbelief.
    “I knew people in the race. I couldn’t believe that something like that could really happen at such a positive event focused on health and athletics. I just started to cry,” she said.
    More than ever, Rothberger knew she wanted to compete in the 2014 race, but admitted it would be for a greater purpose than running. She flew to Boston and joined 36,000 other runners on April 21, after qualifying at an earlier marathon in Atlanta.
    “I never had a doubt in my mind that I wanted to run this year. After hearing about the attacks, I knew I wanted to go out there, and be a part of that and come back with the running community and be even stronger. It was really cool how the city of Boston and all the runners came together,” she said.
    Along every stretch of the 26.2-mile route, spectators lined the streets cheering on the runners, holding signs that read “We Run Together” and “Boston Strong.” Event organizers used social media to pump up the city with motivational messages that urged people to take back the streets of Boston and to get the runners back on the streets where they belonged. Many of last year’s participants returned and wore their 2013 Boston Marathon jackets. At the finish line, a memorial was placed in remembrance of the victims.
    “The energy was just incredible. Everyone was positive and mindful of what happened. Everyone was so supportive,” Rothberger said.   
    Despite her fatigue in the last miles of the race, she was determined to enjoy the journey as much as possible.
    She knew people in the crowd and she knew her mom was waiting near the finish. She knew also that people at home were tracking her progress.
    At 58 seconds faster than her time in the Atlanta marathon, she crossed the finish line triumphantly with a time of 3 hours, 30 minutes, 47 seconds..
    “I saw my mom just after I crossed. She was crying and was so excited. I don’t know how, but I got a personal best,” Rothberger said.
    The next big thing on her mind is beginning work on her doctorate degree at the UNC Greensboro in the fall, but accomplishing something as great as the Boston Marathon will be hard to beat.

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