A local man has completed the famous Boston Marathon

contributed image • John Hensley is back home after completing the Boston Marathon.

Written by Richard Rourke

Running a marathon is not for the faint of heart, a fact that a local runner knows all too well. For many runners, including John Hensley of Uniqué County, the Boston Marathon acts as a true self-test. Hensley had the dedication and tenacity to compete in this climax event, but said he wouldn’t describe himself as a marathon runner.

“I’m not your typical marathon runner,” Hensley told The Erwin Record. “If you look at me, most people wouldn’t think I could run a mile based on my weight and my stature.”

What many might see as flaws, Hensley used as incentive to compete in the world’s oldest annual marathon.

“Trust yourself and fight to end the race behind naysayers and negativity,” Hensley said. “I’m not what society sees as hostility, and that drives me.”

The Boston Marathon, first run in 1897, is one of the most famous road races in the world. The famous marathon was inspired by the success of the first marathon competition at the 1896 Summer Olympics.

“My journey to the Boston Marathon began in the fall of 2017, and I didn’t even know what my future would hold,” Hensley said.

When he first set his sights on running and completing the Boston Marathon, he knew exactly who to call.

“I reached out to Jeff King, who has won the Boston completion before,” Hensley said. “Jeff has definitely pushed me as my training partner and best friend to accomplish things I couldn’t even fathom. Jeff is an absolute inspiration. I was shaped by the love and support of my family, friends and co-workers. What I believe in is that the best of us finished the race no matter the circumstances. I was overwhelmed by my family and friends, who all supported me throughout the journey and beyond.”

This year’s Boston Marathon took place on Monday, April 18th, and involved 30,000 runners.

Hensley said it works for those often overlooked by society. One group, in particular, that inspired Hensley to wear his own running shoes were the eight brave women who broke the gender barriers in 1972.

“Boston is for me about inclusion, and in 1972 only eight brave women conquered the course, showing the world progressing for change,” Hensley said.

“It’s amazing to think, ‘Here I am running the Boston Marathon on the 50th anniversary of the massive change of the Boston Marathon to be inclusive and let the female competitors in,'” Hensley said. “I have a daughter and it’s hard for me to believe that at one point she won’t be allowed to race because of her gender.

Contribute to the photo • A copy of this year’s Boston Marathon official program chosen by John Hensley to compete in the annual event.

“We have progressed as a community, and I am proud of that,” Hensley continued. “We need to focus on the things that unite us like just doing a run.”

The tragedy at the 2013 Boston Marathon gave runners, including Hensley, another reason to push themselves to compete.

“The Boston Marathon bombing was an inspiration to me because two of the top competitors this year are Henry Richard (older brother of Martin Richard, a competitor killed in the 2013 bombing) and Adrian Haslett who lost a leg in the bombing,” Hensley said. “They really inspired me with their stories of personal tragedy and overcoming adversity.”

For Hensley, it was the opportunity to run for those who would not ordinarily be an honour.

“The bib number 321 is assigned as a number for athletes who are different from their nerves,” Hensley said. “I wanted to honor these athletes. Racing was never about me or where I finished. I want people to know that we are all runners regardless of distance, time or personal goals.”

After completing the Boston Marathon, Hensley doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon.

“I’ve trained locally for years,” he said. “Every day was the same for me every day.”

He has also run five other marathons and hopes to continue running.

“This achievement meant a lot to me because the Boston Marathon for amateur runners is the holy grail and the highest bar for running,” Hensley said. “I feel so happy that I was able to run and I will remember the experience for the rest of my life.”

He has another goal, too.

“I hope to inspire other runners to achieve their personal goals, no matter the circumstances,” Hensley said. “Be confident in yourself and achieve your personal goals.”

Photo contributed by • John Hensley appears running the 2022 Boston Marathon.

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