Walnut Ridge, Ark. - Williams Baptist College's Alex Van Herpen spent April 17, in Boston, Mass., running the 2017 Boston Marathon. The Eagles cross country runner finished with a time of 4:05:53. He was one of 61 Arkansas runners in the race.
"It was very surreal when I finished. I knew going in, that this event is the height of recreational running across the world. This year, the race represented all 50 states and 99 different countries. Knowing that I was a part of that is amazing to think about," said the runner.
Van Herpen was coming off an injury and was not certain he would be able to compete in the event. But an opportunity like this does not come often, so he made the trip, despite having a little over a month to train.
"I was cleared to run on March 13, but I was only able to do a few miles up until last week. God is good, he provided this opportunity and continues to bless me. With his guidance, this was a life changing experience," added Van Herpen.
Over 30,000 people competed in the marathon, and Van Herpen noted the impact the prestigious race and all of Boston had on him.
"Learning what the race means to this city makes it all so much more emotional. Seeing the unity in the entire city brought tears to my eyes as I ran. The people of Boston realize the significance of qualifying and finishing. I had several people along the streets talk and high five me as I passed by. It is hard not to get emotional, passing by the bombing memorial sites of four years ago is something I will never forget," he said.
Van Herpen finished in the top half of competitors with a time of a little over four hours.
"I spoke with a man as we rounded the corner onto Hereford, and as tears came to my eyes a man next to me said he did not understand how anyone could not get emotional after being a part of this. As I was finishing, I saw my family and friends and their energy gave me the strength to kick in and sprint to the end," Van Herpen concluded.
The Masnfield, Ark., native qualified for the marathon after finishing the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis, Tenn., with a time of 2:58:22.
"I originally planned to use the St. Jude Marathon as a tune-up in preparation for qualifying at another event. However, after I finished with a time under three hours, I found out I had qualified," said Van Herpen.