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Different this time: Jubilant runners reclaim Boston Marathon

Kayla (left) and Tiffany Gaulke (right) both ran the Boston Marathon this year. It was Kayla's second Boston Marathon. She said this year was a wonderful experience, in contrast to last year’s tragedies. It was Tiffany's first Boston Marathon. She said she’s very glad she was able to be a part of this year’s race.

It was a pleasant surprise for Kayla and Tiffany Gaulke to run into each other last Monday, April 21, at the starting line of the Boston Marathon.

“It was nice to be able to meet up with her,” Tiffany said, “when you are able to pass the time (waiting to start) with someone that you know… or ironically someone with the same last name, same hometown, no relation.”

Both women grew up in River Falls, started running in middle school, and continued through their time in River Falls High School -- Tiffany graduated in 2002, Kayla in 2006.

They were acquainted and had tried to meet up once or twice to run together, but were not able to connect until they both ran the 2014 Boston Marathon.

This was Kayla’s second time completing the Boston Marathon.

She also ran it during last year’s tragedy -- finishing not long before two bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring 180.

The Boston Marathon started in 1897 and is the world’s oldest annual marathon run. Running it had been Kayla’s dream, but the bombs blew that dream away for her.

“Even though I had finished, it felt like I hadn’t finished,” Kayla said. “In that matter of time between just completing the race and having those explosions go off at the finish line, obviously, it completely changed the atmosphere of the race.”

Kayla wasn’t injured, but she was near enough to hear explosions and sirens, which left her and others present feeling helpless and scared.

Despite that experience, Kayla decided to try again this year.

“I knew I had to go back and just kind of reclaim that finish line,” Kayla said, “and a bunch of runners obviously felt the same way.”

Reclaim it they did.

“The energy coming from all the spectators was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. They were 10-20 people deep on each side of the race course,” Kayla said. “We’d waited a whole year, so we were ready to come back and show the world, ‘Hey, we’re back and we’re stronger than ever, and we’re united more than ever.’”

Tiffany also said the race exceeded her expectations.

“I was just impressed with the community at Boston after the race,” Tiffany said, “just how everybody was saying congratulations and thanking runners for participating, for coming back and just bringing the event back to what it’s always been.”

Tiffany was also impressed by the spectator support. She said many spectators held up signs encouraging runners they knew, or asking for high-fives.

“A funny one that I remember said, ‘Chuck Norris never did a marathon,’” Tiffany said.

In addition to holding signs, Kayla said spectators also handed out oranges and encouragement to passing runners.

Kayla was so caught up high-fiving spectators and enjoying the atmosphere, she had to move away from the side of the road around mile seven or eight to be able to meet her goal times.

Both Kayla and Tiffany also happened to meet their personal goals for completing the race.

Kayla’s goal was to beat her personal best marathon time of 3 hours 22 minutes. She came in at 3:21:23.

“That was really special to me,” Kayla said, “to get a personal best at this rice this year.”

Tiffany’s goal was to finish in less than 3 hours 25 minutes. She made the race in 3:23:23.

For the complete story, please see the May 1 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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