Today, I watched my godfather Mark Goldfinger run the 2019 Boston Marathon, his sixth of the six Abbott World Major Marathons. Mark, along with 5000+ others is a “Six Star Finisher”. According to their website, “The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. The races take place in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City.”
Mark and his mom stayed a night with us Friday night, and I got the chance to ask him a few questions about his marathon running career.
Mark’s dad Norman passed away last year in San Diego after a battle with prostate cancer. Until then, both his parents went to cheer him on at every marathon he ran, and his mom Dorene has continued to do so. She even followed him around in Tokyo where it was below freezing and hailing on race day. In honor of his dad, Mark has run all six marathons for cancer charities.
“I think what’s motivated me is being able to do something that not everyone can, but people want to do. There’s a lot of people I run my marathons for; I’ve run all six of them for a cancer charity, the last three have been in honor of my father, and I like running and raising awareness for people who can’t necessarily run or raise awareness for themselves,” Goldfinger said.
Mark ran in his hometown marathon, New York in 2013.
“So far, the New York City marathon in 2013 has been my favorite. It was my first marathon; the crowds were nonstop the entire 26.2 miles; my dad, my mom, my friends, and my family were all there, and it was really the marathon that gave me the inspiration to continue running,” Goldfinger said.
Boston was his 5th of the Abbott World Major Marathons in 2 years. After New York, he continued his running career, running the London Marathon and the Berlin Marathon, which were just 5 months apart in 2017. In London, ESPN featured him in a documentary. He set his personal best in Berlin.
After his dad’s passing in 2018, he ran in Chicago, Tokyo, and lastly Boston to complete his six stars.
“I was born and raised in New York, so I always knew that had to be my first race,” Goldfinger said. “About 2-3 months after running New York City, I learned that Abbott World Majors had six major marathons. Knowing that I had already completed one of them, and that I wanted to do Boston, I thought it would be really cool if I could figure out how to do the next four as well and then finish in Boston.” “I knew I couldn’t end on any other race except for Boston.”
Mark told me later on that the reason he wanted to finish in Boston was because of its history as one of the world’s most prestigious marathons.
On Saturday, we went with Mark and Dorene to the Boston Marathon Expo where runners could pick up their bibs prior to the race. Mark told me that things start to feel real for him when he picks up his number for the race.
But before he was able to receive his bib, we had to pass through an airport-like security checkpoint with a metal detector. This reminded me of the reason this security was added: the Boston Marathon Bombings of 2013. Last year, I wrote an experiential essay about how I learned the true meaning of Boston Strong.
I had never been to this expo before, so this was a unique experience for me. I was able to see where runners picked up their numbers and explore the various marathon-related booths and displays.
I learned a little more about the Abbott World Marathon Majors, bought a Dunkin Donuts Boston Marathon t-shirt, and took pictures with Mark and the rest of the family at a press photo station.
As per Mark’s request, we cheered him on from the midway point in Wellesley. Mark is the first Six Star Finisher that I know, and he is very important to me. Not only is he my godfather, but his dad Norman was my mom’s godfather.
This is the sign we made for Mark and held up when he ran by us in Wellesley.
We were able to track Mark on the official Boston Marathon app. We had plans to give him high fives when he passed by, so we tried to figure out exactly when he would arrive. We held up our sign when the tracker said he was close so he could find us.
Mark was running with his friend Danny Elphinston, who has run all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors with Mark and received his Six Star medal with Mark.
Though Mark and Danny passed by quickly and we barely had time to say hello, it was pretty cool to watch my godfather run the Boston Marathon live. We watched him right in between Miles 14 and 15. Soon after seeing us, he would go on to face Heartbreak Hill, the hardest part of the Boston Marathon. For most of the marathon, Mark was running 8-minute miles. On Heartbreak Hill, Mark was forced to slow down to about a 10-minute mile.
In the meantime, the elite runners finished the race. Kenyan Lawrence Cherono led the males, just 1 second ahead of 2nd place in the closest finish since 1988. Ethiopian Worknesh Degefa led the females. Though we did not see Mark cross the finish line live, we did catch him on a livestream and I got the chance to talk to him after he finished.
“Today was a tough day,” Goldfinger said about his Marathon Monday. “I was hoping for a much better time, but the legs just didn’t want to turn. That being said, I’m excited to be part of the World Major Marathon Club and needless to say, I’ll be back to make up for my time today.”
Check out Mark and Danny’s six star medals: