Basketball to Boston Marathon: Marquette woman’s journey to the finish line

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – For Green Bay native Paige Du Bois, her love for competition began on the basketball court.

“You know, for me, I was a basketball player growing up,” said Du Bois. “My older brother, actually, he started running cross country when he was in middle school. So, I was in sixth grade at the time and going to his meets I was like, ‘huh, I could do this!’ You know, just wanting to keep up with my older brother.”

That desire to keep up would mark the starting line of Du Bois’ running career.

“I started running cross country and I didn’t love it that much. I was more of a sprinter at the time. So, I was a 100m and 200m runner in track and I loved that but I knew I needed to do cross country to help with endurance to get ready for the basketball season because that was my priority.”

But as a multi-sport athlete at Bay Port High School, her priorities began to shift.

“As I got into high school, I just developed more into that 400m runner as well, so cross country became even more important,” said Du Bois. “I ended up ending my basketball career after my junior year. So, I just really fell in love with running.”

Thanks to her desire to push herself to the limits, Du Bois would end her high school career as one of the most accomplished runners to ever compete at Bay Port High.

Her resume was proof and confirmation that she was on the right track.

“It’s you against the clock,” said Du Bois. “There’s no subjectivity to that. You run the time, you run the time. In basketball, it was like, ‘ah, I wish I would have played better here, or maybe this’, and there was more of that wondering. In running, you have the goal of the time and you either get it or you don’t.”

Du Bois would go on to compete at the next level, spending two years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (2016-2018) where she would go on to break multiple school records.

“I was a middle-distance runner and cross country runner for them,” said Du Bois. “So I ran the 400m and the 800m. I was an All-American in the distance-medley relay.”

That’s when her journey would bring her to Marquette. Du Bois transferred to Northern Michigan and continued to flourish with the Wildcats (2019-2020).

“Again, competing in the 400m to 800m range as well as the cross country team,” said Du Bois. “All-Conference and All-Region honors. I tell all of my former teammates, ‘you know, I went to college to get the degree but I was also there just to run. I just loved the sport and I didn’t take any of my four years for granted. It was the best four years of my life.”

With a degree in hand, Du Bois continued working at Queen City Running Co., a job she began in college.

While continuing to help others in the sport, she admits she felt her own passion for running dwindling.

“It was tough,” said Du Bois. “It was during Covid during my senior year and there was that wondering that I could go back to Northern for another year. I had an outdoor season of eligibility and I opted not to. I was working full-time here at Queen City and I think I hit that point where I was ready to be done. I didn’t even know if I wanted to continue running. People would ask me, ‘are you going to race 5K’s, halves, fulls?’ I was like, ‘I’m not racing a marathon.’ I never had intentions of doing it.”

Thanks to the support and encouragement of the local running community, it wasn’t long before Du Bois’ passion was re-ignited.

“From working here and being around so many endurance athletes and seeing people come in with unique stories, I started getting that itch,” said Du Bois. “What does that marathon world look like? What does that ultra-marathon world look like? I started tapping into that more.”

In the Fall of 2022, Du Bois was fully engaged in distance running.

“I was supposed to pace a marathon in the fall of 2022,” said Du Bois. “That race ended up getting cancelled three weeks prior. So, I was doing all of the mileage leading up to it because I was going to pace the marathon anyway. I’m like, ‘well, I’m already here.” I had never raced a marathon yet. I’m like, ‘well, I’ve done all the work. I might as well just go find one and throw it out there.”

That October, Du Bois ran in the Twin Cities Marathon, a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

“I went into it with no intention of going to Boston qualify,” said Du Bois. “I was like, ‘that would be fun if it felt good today.’ But it was more so just trying to get a marathon under my belt as a race for myself.”

Du Bois did more than just get one under her belt.

“I ended up getting a 3:20:00,” said Du Bois. “That got me a 10 minutes Boston qualifying time. So, I was like, ‘okay, that’s pretty cool!’ So, I was set to run at that point.”

With that, Du Bois would join 30,000 runners from across the world to take part in the 128th edition of the Boston Marathon. She said arriving in the historic city was hard to describe.

“It’s comforting, it’s exciting and you just think about all the people that came before you,” said Du Bois. “I think that’s all I was thinking about on the race course itself was just how many historic feet, how many things have happened on this course, and all the people still striving to get there.”

Keeping those thoughts in mind, the moment had arrived. It was time to run the Boston Marathon.

“It was really exciting,” said Du Bois. “I was more like, ‘let’s just get this thing going’. I think the announcer said, ‘okay, you guys are going to be starting the Boston Marathon.’ It was something about ‘the Boston Marathon’ that I just got chills. Then, the gun went off and it was just running at that point.”

Feeding off of the energy from the massive crowd that lined the streets of the 26.2 mile course, Du Bois kept a good pace.

“Just seeing little kids out there and the excitement of people’s faces, there were so many signs, you just feel that energy from the city,” said Du Bois. “I think, for me, it was ‘just soak it up’.”

With the finish line approaching, the realization of her accomplishment began to sink in.

“They say it’s the right on Hereford and the left on Boylston,” said Du Bois. “As soon as we took the right there was a lady next to me and she said, ‘here we go, girl!’ I was like, ‘oh my gosh,” the tears began running down. You take that left and you can see the finish line. You kind of forget you’re running at that point. I’m just looking around and getting closer and closer, it was amazing.”

Finishing with a faster time than expected, Du Bois had reached the pinnacle of distance running.

“It was a good day,” said Du Bois. “I was just happy to leave knowing that I took in the energy. I thought back on all of my accomplishments and how much work it took to get here and just the goals I have going forward.”

One of those goals is a return to next year’s Boston Marathon, something Du Bois has already qualified for, thanks to a good performance at the Chicago Marathon last year.

“As soon as I finished I was like, ‘okay, I’ll be back next year on April 14th,” said Du Bois.

Until then, you can find Paige at Queen City Running Company with a passion for running that is burning brighter than ever and a great story to tell her customers. That story is something Paige says her younger self would be proud of.

“I think she would be,” said Dubois. “Back then, I didn’t even want to run one lap around the track until I was like 15 or 16. To think that I ran 26.2 miles, it was never something that I thought I would do or continue to do. This was my fifth marathon. So, the fact that I’m not wanting to be done yet and I’m looking for more, I’m really proud of that.”

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