Seventeen-year-old Pingree student Caroline Rogers ’23 recently achieved the incredible feat of completing the Boston Marathon, her first-ever attempt at a race that distance.
Caroline’s love of running began during her freshman year at Pingree. She was slated to join Pingree’s track team when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the start of spring sports. Expecting that school would only be closed for two weeks, Caroline began running to prepare herself when the season eventually started. Although school remained closed through June, by the time in-person learning resumed in September, Caroline was hooked.
“The first day I ran three miles for the first time was a keystone moment,” she said. “Then I just never stopped.”
By the fall of 2022, Caroline was strategizing an entry into her first marathon. She ran Gloucester’s Twin Lights Half Marathon and was eager to take the next step. Although she’d never run a marathon and did not believe she would not qualify, Caroline was determined to make the Boston Marathon her first entry. She sought advice from Pingree math teacher, John Young—an accomplished runner who has run 20 marathons, including six Boston Marathons—and Sarah Ager ’20, a Pingree alumna who’d also previously run it.
To John, Caroline’s goal was ambitious but not all unrealistic. “All marathons are the same distance,” he said. “Boston is a challenging marathon, but if Caroline followed through with her training, I was confident she would have a great race.”
With John and Sarah’s help, she learned about options to run for a charity sponsor. While running on a charity team does not require runners to qualify for the marathon, it comes with the added challenge of fundraising. In order to run with her selected organization, Grayken Center for Treatment at South Shore Health, which provides care for people with mental health and substance abuse issues, Caroline was required to raise $9,500. By race day, she’d collected more than $12,000 in support of the Grayken Center.
Training for the race was grueling yet exhilarating. While managing a rigorous class schedule and her role as a captain on the school’s ski team, Caroline also made time for trips to the gym at 5:00 a.m., long runs on the treadmill in the dead of winter, and Saturday group runs along the race route with a group of about 20 people who ran at a similar pace. Marathon training also helped her to gain the confidence to push through discomfort. “I’d tell myself, ‘I can do this. I literally ran 18 miles yesterday.’”
Caroline recalled that the group runs were particularly helpful in preparation for race day. “During the race, I didn’t notice I was running up Heartbreak Hill until I reached the top. I’d done it so many times by that point, I was like, ‘Really, that’s it?!’” Even after gliding over Heartbreak Hill, the race was not without its challenges. Friendly faces along the course kept Caroline motivated through its toughest parts. Her Pingree friends were waiting for her at mile 15, and she got some encouragement from her best friend and fellow Pingree senior Tori Farrell, who was also training for her first marathon. Mr. Young was waiting at mile 17.5 with a pack of Swedish Fish for a jolt of energy. Caroline’s brother and family friends were waiting at 19.5 miles, and her cousins greeted her at mile 21. At the finish line, her parents beamed alongside more family friends.
Before the race, Caroline and a teammate wrote their names on pieces of duct tape and affixed them to the fronts of their singlets. Strangers screamed encouragement at them. “The crowds were so loud I could barely hear during miles 21 to 26,” Caroline said. “I missed seeing one of my cousins because when everyone is yelling your name, it’s hard to tell who you know. It was really cool.”
With the race behind her, Caroline turned her sights toward the next finish line: graduation. She will enter Boston College in the fall, where she’s considering biology or pre-medicine studies. She plans to cheer from the sidelines next year but looks forward to running another marathon in the future. “I would love to qualify Boston at some point, but that would mean cutting an hour off my time from this year,” Caroline said. “It would also be cool to run other famous races like New York, Berlin, or Tokyo.”
For those who know Caroline, the race was simply a glimpse of her greatness. “The first I heard of Caroline’s training was just before her Morning Meeting presentation. I think speaking in front of her teachers and peers was more intimidating than running Boston,” said her advisor, Di Mathey. ”She’s handled this huge accomplishment the same way she handles everything—with humility—not seeking attention for herself but amplifying the cause she supports.”