Marie Boudreau-Ninkov has been through a lot. She lost her mother at 14 years old to breast cancer. 24 years later, she lost her twin sister, at the age of 38, to the same disease. For many of us, that would be enough pain and loss for a lifetime. Instead, Marie fought back by having a double mastectomy to assure that same disease didn’t kill her too.
Life moved on. Sadly. But moved on. In time, Marie found passion in running and eventually triathlon. True to her spirit, she pursued the beast of triathlon, the Ironman. One Sunday morning, Marie was on a training ride with her training partner, Heather Boyum, a local teacher, when another tragedy occurred. Heather was hit and killed by a drunk driver and Marie was witness to it. None of us can imagine the trauma, stress and anxiety, let alone depression, one might go through after witnessing something of this tragic nature. Marie went home, in shock, determined to never ride a bike again. Unexpectedly, a feeling came over her that night, as if Heather was beckoning, and Marie decided to get up the next morning and continue her training. She completed the Ironman.
Pain, angst, obstacles, horrendous occurrences…….whatever we might call them, Marie has suffered more than her share. Several years, and 35+ marathons later, Marie has taken on the role of pushing disadvantaged people in specially-made wheel chairs, so that they, too may experience the highs of participating in a race. In 2016, Marie qualified for the Boston Marathon, the mother of all marathons, while pushing a 160 lb woman + chair ensemble. To qualify for Boston, alone, is quite a feat. To do it, while pushing 160 lbs, is inconceivable (especially to me, an experienced runner). Marie received no special dispensation for time – she had to qualify under the same terms as all other regular runners. For that, she received the title of first female duo to qualify for Boston.
The lesson in all of this is to keep going. Tough circumstances will arise. Bad things will happen. But if you give in, the bad stuff wins. When I asked Marie if she ever feels like giving up, or not running for a day, she responded “yeah, sure there are days……….but then I remember that I have a goal, and there’s never a time when I don’t feel like achieving my goal.”
To be sure, Marie has more goals in mind, so stay tuned and we’ll keep you posted on what’s next!