Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

He ran the Boston Marathon. His wife found a unique way to support him.

Merritt Hughes

While thousands of runners ran the Boston Marathon on Monday, devoted wife Suzzanne Bright competed in her own race through the city’s side roads and the T — traveling all day throughout the course to cheer on her husband who was running his 24th Boston Marathon. 

Suzzanne’s husband, Frank, runs multiple races a year. He started competing in marathons at age 35, and Suzzanne has been there every step of the way. She supports him on race day by getting him ready and seeing him throughout the race as it motivates him to keep going. Suzzanne also helps him prepare throughout the year in his race training and hydration. 

Frank’s day started early, waking up just before 6 a.m. to catch a bus to Hopkinton where the marathon started. Suzzanne helped him get ready for the day and didn’t go back to sleep after he left. She had more preparation to do for her equally long day. 

As Frank is 81 years old, he did not start the race until almost 11 a.m., the wave for his age bracket. During these hours, Suzzanne ate breakfast and packed her bags. She charged her two phones for the day and made sure the B.A.A. Racing App was working, so she could track Frank’s progress throughout the race. Suzzanne packed a small water bottle but didn’t plan to drink any water. She had learned there were limited bathroom options for spectators. 

Just as Frank was starting his marathon, Suzzanne traveled to her first location of the day. She braved a 45-minute T-ride on the Green Line, starting at Arlington and getting off at Woodland. Suzzanne had to fight massive crowds to even get on a train that was standing room only. Many other passengers got off near Copley Square, and she finally settled into a seat for the rest of the ride. 

Photo Merritt Hughes

“Sometimes, people will see me and give up their seat,” Suzzanne said in an interview with The Beacon. “But other times, I just have to stand.”

From the Woodland T station, Suzzanne had to walk just a few hundred feet to her first spot on the route—between the 16th and 17th mile. She arrived about an hour before Frank arrived, so she rested in the shade and updated her family back home. 

Using the marathon’s tracking app, Suzzanne found a spot at the guardrail when Frank was about three miles away. She told her husband to look for her around the 17th mile, but she knew it would be hard for him to spot her amongst the massive crowds. She came prepared, having supported him for 40 plus marathons, so she had a special stick to help Frank find her. 

“The crowds are just lined up on both sides of the marathon for basically the whole 26 miles,” Frank said, post-race. “So when Suzzanne has the stick with the pink surveyor’s tape tied on it waving at me, that helps me find her.”

Photo Merritt Hughes

Waving her homemade beacon of love, Suzzanne waited at the rail for almost thirty minutes before she spotted Frank’s white and orange hat running towards her. Frank saw her, too, and ran to her on the side of the course. He stopped just long enough for a kiss and to hear her piece of advice: “Hydrate!”

After the race, Frank reflected on seeing his wife on the sidelines. 

“It gives me a little boost,” he said. “Thinking about the fact I’m going to see her helps me through the miles. I look forward to that.”

After their less than 15-second encounter, both Frank and Suzzanne were back to their races—Frank’s, the marathon, and Suzzanne’s, a race against time.

The T ride back to Boston was far more crowded than the journey two hours prior. Suzzanne luckily got a seat, but there was little room to breathe. At each stop, more marathon watchers crowded on, somehow making more room when there was none. The Green Line had never felt slower; it took more than an hour to make it to the Kenmore stop.

Even with the slow T travel, Suzzanne beat Frank to the 25th mile by 30 minutes. She took a spot at the rail and raised her pole once again. Because of the loud crowds and her position on the left side of the course, Frank could not see or hear his wife as he ran past. But Suzzanne saw him looking good and still running, which was enough for her. 

With less than a mile to go, Suzzanne knew she could not make it to the finish line before Frank. She started the walk back to their hotel, where they agreed to meet. On the way there, she got a notice via the race’s tracking app that Frank finished in just under 4 hours and 45 minutes by 12 seconds, and she cheered in the middle of Commonwealth Avenue. 

When she returned to their hotel, Suzzanne found Frank resting in their room with his newly earned medal. He finished 4th in his age group and five minutes under his standard time to qualify for next year’s Boston Marathon. 

“You never know until all the entries are in how fast you have to run to get in,” Frank said of his marathon completion time. “Whether this was fast enough to get me in next year, I don’t know.”

Frank plans to run a few marathons in Canada before the September cut-off date to aim for a larger “cushion” to qualify for the 2025 Boston Marathon. Suzzanne will be on the sidelines again to give a word of advice or just a kiss. 

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About the Contributor
Merritt Hughes
Merritt Hughes, Opinion Co-Editor

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