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by Anna Barry

photography by Michaela Johnston

The cooler weather and beautiful foliage make running the Boston Athletic Association’s Half-Marathon heavenly. Although not as prestigious and world-renowned as the Boston Marathon, the B.A.A Half Marathon brings runners from across the world to race along Boston’s Emerald Necklace parkway in Jamaica Plain every year on Columbus Day weekend.

The half marathon, which began in 2001, is “presented by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund” and is aimed at “furthering the Boston Athletic Association’s mission of promoting health and fitness through the sport of running,” said Mary Miller, B.A.A Volunteer Program Coordinator.

In order to compete in the race, individuals must either apply online to qualify via the lottery system or apply to run through the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute team. Boston University has a few students who are participating in this year’s half marathon both individually and for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute team. The athletes who race for the Dana Farber team must fundraise a minimum of $750 for cancer research.

Aimee Manderlink (ENG ’18) and Camilla Kemppainen (SAR ’18) are two Boston University students who are not only dedicating their time to training for the half marathon, but are racing for a cause close to their heart.

“I was inspired to run the half marathon in memory of one of my best friends, Ryan Meegan, who passed away in a car accident last fall,” said Manderlink, who has been fundraising this summer and fall for Dana Farber. “Ryan was the most incredible friend and he had so much passion and ambition. The summer before he died, Ryan would text me pretty much every day to get me to join him for his daily runs but I was pretty lazy and out of shape so I usually declined the offer. Ryan's death has motivated me to get off the couch and run the half marathon, and hopefully one day a full marathon, to honor his unforgettable spirit and keep his memory alive.”

Kemppanien is an advocate for childhood cancer research, as she founded and is the President of Love Your Melon on BU’s campus. She was inspired to not only run the half marathon, but she would be able to fundraise for a cause close to her heart. She said that she wanted to run as “it’ll be a good experience for me because I’ve done a lot of 10k’s and 5k’s.”

Both Manderlink and Kemppanien will head to Jamaica Plain to run this October. The half marathon course begins and ends in Franklin Park and loops around the Emerald Necklace parkway. Along the course, runners can take in the vibrant colors of the trees and expect to see many families lining the sidewalks cheering on the runners.

“It’s a challenging course, with a significant drop in elevation coming out of Franklin Park, as well as the same elevation climb coming back into the finish area,” said Miller. “The race takes entrants though the Franklin Park Zoo before finishing at White Stadium. This provides for an exciting start to the race, a unique look at the Zoo, as well as a challenging finish for all the participants.”

The B.A.A Half Marathon will kick off at 8 a.m. on October 9. Although the applications to compete in the half marathon are closed, non-runners can volunteer or show up to offer morale support. So head on down to Franklin Park whether it is to cheer on a friend, watch elite athletes or soak up the fall surroundings of the Emerald Necklace while watching runners race their hearts out!

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