Former Freeman Academy/Marion athlete takes on Boston Marathon

Apr. 19—BOSTON — Running a marathon is not for the faint of heart, a fact that one local runner well knows.

Titus Roesler, 21, from Marion is no stranger to running. He has been running since he was in middle school. In high school, he was a top athlete in cross country and track and field at Freeman Academy.

And on Monday, April 15, he achieved one of the ultimate runner's goals when he ran the Boston Marathon.

Now, as a college student studying electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., life has taken Roesler away from the race track and he finds himself running just for himself. Cambridge is, in fact, just across the river from Boston so he didn't have far to travel for Monday's race.

"This was as 'local' as a marathon could be for me," Roesler said. "The morning of the race, I walked from my dormitory to the Boston Common to catch a bus to Hopkinton and after the race, I walked from the finish line back to campus."

The Boston Marathon, which was first run in 1897, ranks as one of the world's best-known road racing events. This year's Boston Marathon was the 128th anniversary of the event and drew just under 30,000 runners.

"As a runner spending most of the year in the Boston area, the Boston Marathon was definitely on my radar," Roesler said.

Roesler qualified for the race in May 2023 at the Providence Marathon in Rhode Island, which he ran 2 hours, 46 minutes and 29 seconds and finished 10th overall. On Monday, he finished with a time of 2:54:46. This was his fourth marathon. And hardest.

"Providence was the largest marathon I had run before and that had just over 1,000 runners. Boston has around 30,000," Roesler said. "The sheer number of fellow runners on the road along with the difficulty of the course and the jump in temperature tempered my ambition a bit. I didn't feel the best myself that day. It was a tough marathon."

Roesler started running back in 2014 when he tried out for middle school track. The first time he raced the mile, he finished in last place and it took him well over eight minutes to finish. He was determined to stick with it though and ended up doing long distance running.

Goal setting has always been common for Roesler. The summer before his eighth grade year, he set a goal to make the varsity cross country team and compete at the state meet that fall.

"I figured if I ran six miles every day then a three mile varsity (cross country) race would be trivial," he said.

During his senior year he set out to break some 40 year old records at the school, one in the 3,200-meter run and another for the 1,600-meter run. He managed to set a new record for the 3200-meter run with a time of 9:54.31 which beat the previous best of 9:58.30 set by James Unruh back in 1980.

The more Roesler has run over the years, the easier running has gotten for him. The easier it has gotten, the further he would push himself. That's what led to his success during his junior high and high school races. The longer the race, the more Roesler favored his odds. From that perspective, running marathons seemed like a natural next step. His first marathon was the Charles River Marathon in September 2022 in Boston.

Coming into Monday's race Roesler didn't set lofty expectations. He had two goals: to enjoy the experience and to break the three-hour barrier. He achieved both.

"While not my best, I felt my clocking was all right," Roesler said. "Running through the Wellesley College 'scream tunnel,' up Heartbreak Hill, and along the streets of downtown Boston was more memorable than I could have imagined."

Roesler spent hours running over the past several months in preparation for the race, averaging ideally 60 miles per week. As race day got closer, that number climbed as high as 85 miles and as low as 15 miles. Roesler would train on paths along the Charles River and often end up setting a quick pace by passing fellow runners and chasing cyclists.

"In general, high mileage is the bread and butter of marathon training," Roesler said. "I have always equated higher mileage with higher performance."

Even though he was preparing for a big race like Boston, Roesler couldn't shirk his schoolwork.

"I joked that running the marathon would be my easiest task that week," he said.

Roesler said the atmosphere at Monday's race was awesome and it's what definitely sets Boston apart from other marathons he's run. There were tens of thousands spectators cheering him on. He had a number of friends and family in the crowd, including a math instructor he works with at MIT, members of the MIT track team and a cousin who attends a nearby college.

Next up for Roesler is the Charles River Marathon in September, which he has run the past two years. It's a great race, he said, that is close to school and 10 loops around the Charles River.

"I miss how as a student all races were free," Roesler said. "Now that I have to pay to enter organized races, I try to get the most bang for my buck and marathons are good in that aspect."