|Clarksburg, Williamstown Women Run Marathon to Benefit First-Responders|
|By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff|
06:27AM / Saturday, April 07, 2018
|Drury graduate Cassie Lincoln runs for her alma mater, Assumption College. Lincoln will join Nicole Armbrust of Williamstown in running the Boston Marathon with the Mass General team to benefit first-response efforts.|
Wall hangings at Williamstown's Berkshire Fitness Company celebrate the spirit of the Boston Marathon.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Separated by four years and 125 miles, Cassie Lincoln and Nicole Armbrust each learned the value of first responders.
Armbrust, of Williamstown, had just finished the 2013 Boston Marathon and was blocks away from Copley Square when a pair of bombs killed three people and injured hundreds.
Lincoln, a Clarksburg resident and Drury High School graduate, is a doctoral student earning a degree in physical therapy. She was doing a clinical rotation at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire last September when a gunman took one life in an apparent family dispute.
"It was in my tower and one floor above me," Lincoln said of the 2017 incident. "It was in the ICU. I didn't witness it directly, but I saw all the mayhem and everything.
"The emergency responders were amazing and kept us all safe. The incident was contained to the one [fatality]. … We were very lucky to have the emergency responders that day."
This month, Lincoln has a chance to "pay it forward," along with Armbrust as they team up to compete in the 122nd Boston Marathon as part of the Massachusetts General Hospital Emergency Response Marathon Team.
They and their teammates are raising money to provide support for emergency care, disaster relief and preparedness training and teaching at Mass General.
"We are grateful to our runners and the awareness they bring to emergency medicine at Mass General," Mass General Chief of Emergency Medicine Dr. David Brown, said in a news release. "These funds support the vital training and resources needed to develop a carefully, integrated response that spans multiple departments throughout the hospital."
To date, the team has raised $1.4 million in a campaign that began after the 2013 race, an event etched in the memories of runners like Armbrust.
"I had just finished the race, and I was two streets away," Armbrust recalled recently. "I was parallel to Boylston Street on my way home. You could feel what happened.
"When the first one went off, people stopped on the street and looked at each other. When the second one went off, that's when the chaos erupted. The thing I remember most is there were sirens all over the place.
"All the emergency response vehicles were coming in to assist while everyone else was trying to get away."
Armbrust, who will be running her 12th Boston Marathon on April 16, twice ran for the Race for Rehab Team from the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
"I'm a physical therapist and it resonated with me to help people who were injured," she said. "This year, I wanted to look at a different aspect and help the first responders. I'm fortunate to have been able to help both."
Armbrust recruited Lincoln, a colleague from Williamstown's Berkshire Fitness Company, to join her on the Emergency Response Team.
Lincoln, who currently is studying pediatric physical therapy at Spaulding in Salem, ran cross country at Assumption College. But this month she will tackle her first Boston Marathon -- or any marathon for that matter.
"I've done half-marathons, and one of my goals in life was to run Boston," she said. "I've been lucky enough to be given this opportunity.
"I ran competitively for four years in college, and it was exhausting. But, because this is for charity …"
Although Lincoln does not have Armbrust's experience as an athlete in the world's oldest annual 26.2-miler, she does have experience with the event.
"I think I was probably in the fourth grade, and we all went as a family," Lincoln said of her first Boston Marathon experience. "One thing I remember that will sound silly is all the free samples that they were giving out.
"Another important and cool thing was all the energy. I remember cheering from the sidelines, giving high-fives and thinking these people were crazy when I was told it was the distance from Clarksburg to the Berkshire Mall."
Eventually, Lincoln found out craziness can be contagious.
"When I got into running, originally I said I wanted to be the youngest person to do Boston," she said. "But I found out there was a minimum age, 18, so I changed my bucket list to running the marathon at least once."
Armbrust, by contrast, is a veteran of marathons on the East Coast and in Arizona, where she was living until she moved to Williamstown a year ago. Like thousands of others, she traveled from around the country to tackle what she calls "the Super Bowl of running."
"I've done 30-something marathons, but Boston has always been one of my favorites because of the people," she said.
"I've tried to bring different groups to join me [on past trips to Boston]. It's not just a race. It's an event. … A million people lining the streets cheering on perfect strangers, it's unlike anything else. I've been fortunate to bring different people to the race to showcase for them what a cool thing it is."
Armbrust already qualified for the 2019 Boston Marathon, which is a particular relief for her going into this month's race.
"Running as part of the charity team … it's nice being able to stop and say hello to people who you know in the crowd," she said. "Now, there's no pressure, and I can just enjoy it.
"Being part of the Mass General team means being able to stop and thank the first responders along the way. If you're worried about making a time, you can't think about that stuff."
Other area residents registered to run in the 122nd Boston Marathon on April 16 include:
Becket's Ken Bilodeau; Cheshire's Paul Gage and Joseph Gwozdz; Dalton's Jennifer Bell, Tim Drake and Jake Eberwein; Lanesborough's David Wilson; Lee's Matt Kinnaman; Lenox's Edward Culver, Mary Sheehan and Nicole Shepardson; Pittsfield's Tami Grady,Carmel Kushi and Abigail Wright; Readsboro, Vt.'s, Jan Rancatti; Sheffield's John Kemp and Allison Lassoe; and Williamstown's Henry Art, Mary Kennedy, Jacqueline Lemieux, Lauren Philbrook and Elizabeth St. Clair.