Long may they run

By David Abel  |  GLOBE STAFF  |  April 21, 2008

They are professional racers, runners for charity, and casual joggers. Some have run for years; others will run the course for the first time. Today, more than 25,000 runners from around the world will make their way from Hopkinton to Copley Square in the 112th Boston Marathon. Here's why some of them do it.

The oldest runner at age 81, Safder Kartoglu of Turkey hopes one day to set a record for being the oldest man to run a marathon on every continent.

Bryan Cuan of Cambridge is among the youngest; he is one of 48 18-year-olds registered.

Neil Weygandt, 61, of Drexel Hill, Pa., intends to set a record of his own: If he finishes, it will be his 42d Boston Marathon, the longest known streak of consecutive finishes.

Often training before 5 a.m., Mary Lou Slonkosky, a 45-year-old mother of 10 from minister, Ohio, is out to prove that having little time to run can be a gratuitous excuse.

A former Army First Lieutenant who began training for the marathon while in Iraq, David Leary, 33, of El Paso, is one of 24 people running to support homes for our troops, a Taunton group that provides housing to severely injured veterans.

For Dale Eckert, 52, of Newburyport, who has undergone 35 rounds of radiation, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and one operation to treat his brain cancer, finishing will be its own reward.

The same goes for Jamie Simpson, 42, of Boston, who has lived with the HIV virus for the last 10 years. "I aspire to be standing up by the end," said Simpson, who takes a potent cocktail of drugs every day."

Tommy Ozbolt, 24, who works at the James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury, wants to honor Steven Odom, an eight-grader shot to death in October. He is trying to raise $12,694 to match the digits of Odom's birthday.

Some run for personal goals. A self-described "marathon junkie," Keith J. Thaxter, 46, of Whitehorse, Yukon territory in Canada, last year ran 16 marathons.

The there are the newbies like Jenna Klane, 23, of Easton, who will be running her first marathon with her mother. Also a first-timer. "When the training got harder, she started telling people I dragged her into this," said Klane, who has raised about $3,000 for bottom line, which helps poor Boston children get into college."

Ellen Finnie Duranceau, 48, an MIT librarian from Arlingotn, has combined running with blogging. "When nouns start to disappear, and I lose the ability to turn on my own television (sad, but true), it's refreshing to have some goal that reminds me that I can still take on a challenge," she wrote in one entry titled "Why Run A Marathon."

Scott K. Martin, 36, of Lowell, is raising money to support victims of liver disease such as his father-in-law, who is waiting for a liver transplant. "There couldn't be a better reason to run than to save someone's life," he said.

David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel.