Buoyed by Crowd, Father-Son Duo Runs 2:55 at Boston

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Shaun and Shamus Evans figured there was no way they’d be able to break 3 hours at the Boston Marathon.

The father-and-son team first qualified for Boston last September at a race in Sackets Harbor, New York. Shaun ran 2:59:26, pushing Shamus, who has cerebral palsy, in a racing chair. Because Shamus turned 18 before race day, they’d be allowed to enter in the duo category at Boston.

But they did not get a lot of training done together through the winter in upstate New York. Bad weather, Shamus’s busy high school schedule, and illness conspired to keep them from runs longer than 12 miles.

A few weeks before Boston, Shaun Evans told Runner’s World, “I would love to run fast there, but just with the training that I’ve done and the training I’ve not done, it’s not going to be the year for us to run a fast time.”

They both underestimated the power of the Boston fans.

With crowds shouting for them the whole way from Hopkinton to Boylston Street, the Evans duo finished in 2:55:35. They averaged 6:42 per mile pace, and finished second of 20 duos in the category. The winning team, Julien Pinsonneault and May Lim of Canada, was less than a minute ahead, in 2:54:43.

“What got me through today was the crowds, having Shamus to lean on, and experience,” said Shaun Evans, 46, who has a lifetime PR of 2:26 but does all his marathons these days pushing a rider. “We cruised the downhills and really backed off on the uphills.”

The crowds seemed to know them, much to their surprise. A group of spectators on the corner of Hereford and Commonwealth yelled rhythmically, as if they were in the bleachers at Fenway Park, “Shaun and Shamus!” (Clap-clap-clapclapclap.)

Shamus told his dad after the race, “My smile muscles hurt.”

The two are back home in Galway, New York, basking in the glow of the race, planning their next trip to Boston. Shaun is a physical therapist and vice president of education at Ainsley’s Angels of America, which works to ensure everyone can enjoy endurance events. Shamus is finishing his senior year of high school and will attend SUNY Albany next year, where he’ll major in physics and mechanical engineering.

Maybe he’ll have some guidance for his dad about the forces pulling a racing chair downhill through the early miles of the Boston Marathon. They split 1:20:39 for the first half and 1:34:56 for the second half.

Physics doesn’t account for the power of cheering, however. “I think at the beginning the emotions were starting to get the best of him,” Shamus Evans said of his dad. “He went out fast. Then he reined it in from there.”

The day, the younger Evans said, was “unforgettable.”

Sarah Lorge Butler is a writer and editor living in Eugene, Oregon, and her stories about the sport, its trends, and fascinating individuals have appeared in Runner’s World since 2005. She is the author of two popular fitness books, Run Your Butt Off! and Walk Your Butt Off!

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