Ashland Runners Dream of Reaching Boston Finish Line

Cynthia Whitty
Issue Date: 
February, 2020
Article Body: 

The town of Ashland, through the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), is providing 22 invitational entry forms for the 2020 Boston Marathon. The residents who run as invitational entries, or “bib” numbers, do not have to qualify for the marathon, but each needs to raise $3,000 to support the Ashland Select Board community funding program, known as the BAA grant program. Last year Ashland runners raised over $66,000.
Kevin Dacey and Christine Avery will be among the runners from Ashland on April 15. To support them and the other Ashland runners, visit
What drives these runners? Ashland Local Town Pages recently interviewed Dacey and Avery to find out more.
Kevin Dacey
When and why did you start running? I have been running off and on for fitness since my 20s and became serious about running during my mid-30s, when my first race was a 5K Turkey Trot. Until then, I really just ran by myself. In addition to using running as my main source of exercise, I always used it to decompress from the stresses of the day. So it has been a very personal journey for me. One that I never thought would have taken me to run marathons.
How do you stay motivated? These days I have two main drivers for my motivation. First and foremost, my family. I have an amazing wife that puts up with all my running craziness and two beautiful children. I run so that they can see the importance of being active and setting goals. The second is charity. The last five years I have been involved with [Leukemia & Lymphoma’s] Team In Training (TNT) during the Boston Marathon season. I have run it twice and have been a part of the coaching group that trains the team for the Boston Marathon. This is also important for me as I can teach my kids about charity and using running as a way to make a difference for something bigger than oneself.
What is your experience running marathons? My only experience running marathons is Boston. I had never considered myself a marathon runner. At times, I still don’t! I don’t look like your typical runner, and I take pride in that. But, I ran the Boston Marathon in 2015 and 2016 for TNT and then was honored to coach the team the last three years. I am extremely excited to be running again and to do so for the town that my family calls home.
What does your practice look like? At the moment, I am nursing an injury so my practice routine is a bit different than the normal. Currently, I run twice during the week with a great group of friends here in town. On the weekends, I have been running on the course with friends and to get a feel for race day. In addition to that, I have been incorporating yoga for flexibility to help with recovery and get over my injury.
Why run the Boston Marathon this year? I am running because I have something to prove to myself. Again, I have only run Boston, and the two times I ran they were very different races. That’s the beauty of running. You can run the same route over and over again, but some days are better than others. My last Boston was not a good day. I always promised myself that I would run again. So I have the opportunity to run Boston again and also run for Ashland, raising funds for programs that will directly make an impact within the community that I am a part of is a great honor.
What does the Boston Marathon mean to you? The Boston Marathon means the world to me. I have lived close to Boston my entire life. This is not a race but a part of the city and its people. I never wanted to run a marathon, but I was inspired to do so when one of my closest friends battled cancer with such positivity and courage that I needed to do something to honor him. That is what led me to TNT and this crazy six-year journey. As a runner, there is no better feeling than turning onto Boylston and hearing the crowd cheer for you. As a coach, I was able to experience the race in a completely different way. Seeing people that never ran a marathon before cross that finish line with a huge smile gives me goosebumps to this day. This race is so much more than 26.2 miles for me. It’s also why I don’t know if I could run a marathon anywhere else.
What do you do when you are not running? I spend my time chasing around my kids with my wonderful wife. We have a 6-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. They keep us busy, but we are blessed and wouldn’t have it any other way. My other passion is music and record collecting. I have a large vinyl collection I have gathered over the course of my life. I am just as big a music nerd as I am a running nerd. My wife and I still try and see live concerts when we can, but these days we’ll take a quiet night at home.
I am so grateful to be a part of the Ashland team and cannot wait to run on race day. I look forward to enjoying every step, every cheer, and most likely a few tears—hopefully of joy. I try not to take any of this for granted and convey to my children to dream big, and with hard work, they can make those dreams a reality. I hope this shows them that it can be true.
Christine Avery
When and why did you start running? I started running during 8th grade when I joined the Ashland Track Team. An older sister of a friend, already on the team, encouraged us all to join. I tried hurdles and sprints, after about a week I found, a) I was not fast, and b) I had no coordination or leg length to get over the hurdles, so I began running with the distance crew, and it stuck.
How do you stay motivated? Motivated? Hmmm, that is tough. I am always active. I should really be logging more miles. I love running, but it does not love my body. I stay motivated because I have to. I really want to do this. What I tell my kids—my track athletes, they are not mine, I only borrow them, I coach—is, ‘Running is 75 percent mental. Believing you can is the biggest factor.’
What is your experience running marathons? This will be my first marathon. I ran 13 miles of the Boston Marathon back in high school and have run two other half marathons: the Ashland Half and the Portland Half. I love doing 5ks. They are a great race length, and I have done many. This will be, most likely, my one and only 26.2.
What does your practice look like? Most would cringe at my practice schedule. I run one short 3-5-mile run during the week and then run a long run on the weekends, adding a mile each week. The rest of the week, I lift and try to put as many hours of cardio in as possible. I would like to run more, and will get there, but again, running does not like my body, so for me, less is more.
Why run the Boston Marathon this year? I am running the marathon this year as part of my year of celebrating 50.
What does the Boston Marathon mean to you? As long as I can remember, I have watched the runners go by. I have helped coach runners and volunteered for the BAA [Boston Athletic Association], and each year I say to myself, “I can do this!” Well, this is my year!
What do you do when you are not running? When I am not running, I can be found watching runners. I have been coaching cross country and indoor and outdoor track for Ashland for the past 15 years. I begin most of my days at Encompass Fitness. I couldn’t live without my morning workouts; they keep me going. However, my daily schedule is about to change as I am beginning a new career at Keefe Tech as a special education teacher. I am sad to leave my beloved Ashland High School, but I will continue to support them, coaching and attending sporting and after-school events.
For the last 10 years, I have stood on the finish line the weekend before the Boston Marathon. Each year I have had the pleasure of bringing athletes to compete in a special race sponsored by the BAA. This year I will not only get to stand with my athletes days before but will get to cross that line with thousands of runners in an achievement of my own.