Fenway Park’s Inaugural Marathon
Frances Klimczak grew up rooting for the Boston Red Sox. Now, she’s the top female finisher on the first-ever marathon held at Fenway Park.
Meet Top Female Finisher Frances Klimczak
On September 15, Klimczak was one of 50 participants in the inaugural Fenway Park Marathon, which organizers believe was not only the first marathon at Fenway but the first marathon ever held at a major league ballpark. Klimczak finished in 3:57:46.
“I can’t describe how satisfying it was,” Klimczak said. “My training paid off. I definitely did not expect to win, just to go and be a part. Towards the end, the last 4 miles, realizing I could actually win was an added bonus.”
The historic race consisted of 116.5 laps around “Boston’s Most Beloved Ballpark.” It was the brainchild of Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray, who also competed. The race began at 5 p.m. on a Friday night and continued well into the evening, under relatively calm skies–with one exception.
“It was good [visibility], definitely a good time of day humidity-wise,” Klimczak said. “It was a little bit dark. Not all the lights were on. At dusk, the skies opened up. It poured a good while, which was definitely an added challenge. I didn’t notice. I couldn’t have been happier.”
Red Sox History
The New England native was running on the same field used by her favorite players, past and present.
“I grew up in Connecticut as a big, big Red Sox fan,” Klimczak said. “My whole family. My dad took me once a year.”
Now she was back for the first time since moving away from home. Instead of sitting in the seats, she was circling the ballpark–more than 100 times. She began at the left-field wall (nicknamed the Green Monster) and ran the perimeter of the field, finishing along the first-base dugout.
Klimczak’s competitors included Becca Pizzi, who last year became the first American woman to complete the World Marathon Challenge: a series of seven marathons over seven days on all seven continents.
“It was an honor to meet her and share some of her stories,” Klimczak said. “I did not expect to win knowing she was in the field.”
Klimczak was competing in just her second marathon. (While in college at Holy Cross, she ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.) She trained by running laps on a track in the heat of Guam, where she had been stationed as an active-duty Navy lieutenant.
Guam has been in the news lately due to tensions between North Korea and the U.S. The island also has a hot climate that prepared Klimczak for summer running.
“It’s great for training,” she said. “It’s so humid out there. I trained on a track. When it was time for race day, I was well-equipped for Northeastern summers.”
She was also familiar with long distances on a track.
“I did my long runs on a track,” Klimczak said. “If it was a 15-miler or whatever, I stuck to the track. I wouldn’t get hit by a car running in the outdoors. Mentally, I zoned out. I’ve always loved running.”
The Fenway marathon was “a different kind of challenge,” she said. “I would think about running on the field. It inspired me to push through those days [of training].”
On race day, she pushed through for a historic win.
“It was just an honor to be around for Dave [McGillivray], his dream, his vision,” Klimczak said. “I’m so blessed to be included. To the other 49 [runners], we have a unique bond. Once in a lifetime, the very first one. It’s a really, really special memory.”