Marathon Women Reach Goals on May Day

Three work colleagues from Swarthmore College ran marathons on May Day. If they were searching for good weather away from clammy Swarthmore, they didn’t find it. Pittsburgh was cool and rainy; Jersey, colder and rainier. Still, motivated by differing goals, each of the three completed her course, with deep satisfaction at the outcome. Their stories in brief:

Maria Newport, Lecturer, Chemistry

The Novo Nordisk New Jersey marathon was my sixth marathon, and the fact that I have run any of them is still baffling to me. I had this crazy idea of trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon next year — it wasn’t a goal really, but an idea. I am not a “natural” when it comes to running. I have to train hard, and slowly I have found some personal success. I run with the Delco Road Runners, Sole Sisters, and the Swarthmore Friday track group run by Sharon Graham. I can’t tell you how motivating and fun it is to run with these people.

I felt energetic and fearless in the N.J. marathon until mile 14. My legs started to ache and I began to doubt myself. I slowed down, lost my pace group, but somehow was able talk myself through every mile. It was rainy and windy by the beach and there weren’t a lot of spectators. But I thought that I could still BQ (qualify for the Boston Marathon), so the race became a complete mind game. In my age group, I needed to get under 3 hours and 45 minutes. My finishing time was a 3:44:34 so I just made it! In recent years, runners needed to run a few minutes under the qualifying time because of the high number trying to get into Boston. So this time most likely is not fast enough to get me in, but it is more than I ever thought I could do.

Maria Newport, left, and Yoshiko J.

Yoshiko Jo, Lecturer, Japanese

I ran the New Jersey Marathon as a 4-hour pacer, keeping an even pace throughout the race with a big group of about 20 runners. Most of them ran faster than our set pace for the last couple miles, and my co-pacer Mike D. Skara and I finished by ourselves in 3:59:31. It was so touching to be welcomed by our smiling runners who finished before us. They ran sub-4! (Running a marathon under 4 hours is a milestone called sub-4.) I was very happy to have a role in making other people’s dreams come true. It was my second BQ race in a month, plus I ran one 100 mile race during this period.

I have been a race pacer more than 15 times, a guide for blind runners at the New York Marathon more than 15 times, and through Achilles International, Philadelphia, I have also guided other distances at a number of races. My marathon PR is 3:21:13, and this year I completed Boston for the 12th consecutive year. I have also completed 19 races of 100 miles or more, winning four times. I run around Media and Swarthmore during weekdays, taking photos and publishing on Instagram (@_yojo1_) mainly about the nature I see during my runs and on Swarthmore College’s campus.

Jessica Sarver with her father, Chuck.

Jessica Sarver, Visiting Professor, Chemistry

My dad (Chuck Sarver) and I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon to raise money in memory of our family friend Kayla Swartz, who died unexpectedly in her sleep this past October at the age of 23. I had known Kayla since she was born; I babysat her for several years, and we attended the same church. When she passed away it was like losing a daughter.

Kayla’s mother had died of a seizure two weeks after Kayla’s birth. Both women suffered from a form of epilepsy, so we used the CrowdRise website ( to collect donations to the Epilepsy Foundation. By the day of the marathon we had raised more than $3,600, including donations from my Swarthmore College coworkers as well as members of the Delco Road Runners Club. This was my first marathon and my dad’s second. I ran a 3:37:31 and my dad ran a 4:08:07, which beat his previous best by 37 minutes!

One thought on “Marathon Women Reach Goals on May Day

  1. Congratulations to all three marathoners Maria, Yoshiko, and Jessica ! I am sure you will all run many more marathons and set many more personal records along the way !

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