Montrose Parent Runs the Boston Marathon — For Montrose!


Credit: Dara Concagh

Parent Tom Corra raised money for Montrose financial aid with his Boston Marathon run on October 18.

Marathon Monday in Boston is legendary. Boston College students wake up at an absurd hour to tailgate for the event, Wellesley students create a “scream tunnel” that runners can supposedly hear from a mile away, and thousands line Hereford and Boylston Street in Back Bay to watch exhausted runners approach the finish line. Boston had postponed its marathon for a record 19 months as a result of COVID-19. While the race usually takes place once a year on Patriots’ Day, the gun went off this year on October 18. 

Faster runners enter with the coveted BQ, or Boston Qualifier — an age group and gender-specific time required to race. Getting a BQ is really difficult, though, so most marathon hopefuls find a charity or organization that they raise money for during their run. For the first time, Montrose had a runner! Tom Corra P ‘22 &’26, a prolific runner (and my dad), ran the Boston Marathon a few weeks ago to raise money for Montrose tuition assistance. 

Tom has only been running for about 12 years. “I started when my kids were small to get exercise. At some point, a colleague of mine suggested that I do a half marathon,” he said. He started working up to the distance, ran his first half marathon in 2010, and has been running consistently ever since. 

Since he started training for 26.2 miles, Tom has had the goal of running all six major world marathons: New York, Chicago, Boston, Berlin, London, and Tokyo. Boston checks off the last of the U.S. races: he previously ran New York, Chicago, and Berlin each about 18 months apart. “I had been planning to run a marathon this fall either way,” Tom said. “I’ve always wanted to run Boston, but it’s really hard to get into.” Speedy as he is, Tom wouldn’t have a realistic shot at the elite BQ time for his age group. So, when former Montrose Head of School Dr. Bohlin called him about an opportunity to run the Boston Marathon for Montrose, he was psyched. “I said sure! I’m really grateful they thought of me.” 

Usually, those lucky enough to clinch a spot in the Boston Marathon have to train through the winter. It’s dark and cold, and it’s harder to find a time of day to run when a headlamp isn’t required. This year, though, runners lucked out. “It was great to run Boston in October because I could train through the summer,” Tom said. “I’m also still working from home, so It’s been easier to find time to run in the mornings.” His heaviest training week, he estimated, was about 55 miles. The last three weeks of training were “tapered” — he gradually lessened his mileage as he neared race day. 

As someone who watched my dad check the weather obsessively as far out as a month before the race, I can tell you that it was about 70° and sunny — perfect for spectating, but not great for running. “It was hot, but it’s easier to prepare for a hot race day when you’re training in the summertime than it is when you’re training in February,” Tom commented. The Boston course is also notoriously sneaky — the first 6 miles are almost pure downhill, and the worst hills come in Newton about ¾ of the way through the race. Tom remembers that all the marathoners he talked to about the race warned him not to get too confident in the first quarter. “Every time they told me that, I promised I wouldn’t go out too fast,” he laughed. “But I did exactly that.” 

All of the friends and family that saw him on the first half of the course agreed: he was amped. My sister and I were at mile 7, and a sizable group of Montrose students, faculty, and families were at St. Patrick’s Church in Natick to cheer him on. “The Montrose crowd at mile 10 was really awesome and loud, and I was just excited to be there,” he said. “I had to turn off my music after a few miles because I realized I was going way too fast.” Tom reached the halfway point about 30 seconds faster than his goal pace, and then it was time for the course to throw him a curveball. 

Tom did a lot of his training runs downtown and on the Newton hills, so he knew what was coming. Even so, the course demanded a payment for the super-fun first half he’d had. “At mile 16, I started to feel like dirt,” he said. But he held it together, fueled (as I like to think) by his daughters’ top-notch encouragement on the BC downhill. “One of the best things I’ve read about marathon running is to just run the mile that you’re in,” he said. That mentality drove him to a 3 hour and 50 minute finish time — just 8 minutes slower than his personal best on a much flatter Berlin course. 

I witnessed a lot of groaning and old-person shuffling the first day or so after the race. “I was grateful that the race was in Boston because I didn’t have to deal with the car or plane ride home,” Tom said. But he could still successfully walk up stairs, and remembered feeling more-or-less back to normal by that Thursday. 

What’s next, you ask? Just more running. “I entered the lottery for a bib for the London marathon next year,” he said. And though he plans to start training for that in the new year, he’s promised to do some short, easy runs for a little while. 

Tom’s run also raised almost $18,000 for Montrose financial aid! “Thanks to everyone who donated, took part in the raffle, and came out to cheer,” he said. “And thanks to Montrose for the opportunity to cross off a huge bucket-list item!” 

From the many hallway comments, Instagram posts, and “bravo”-s in his name, it’s evident that the Montrose community is equally grateful for Tom’s willingness to run whichever mile he’s in.


Kasey Corra ‘22, Co-Assistant Editor-in-Chief