Find Your Finish Line, Day 7:

What runner or celebrity would you want pacing you in the race?

Running with a partner can be a great way to train and prepare for the race. A partner can give you the needed boost in confidence or competitiveness right when you need it. With this in mind, we asked our 10 runners, who would they want pacing them in the race? To make it even more interesting, they could choose anyone at all, from a renowned runner to a current celebrity.

Several of our runners chose legends in the sport. The first is Bill Rodgers–a icon in the sport of marathon running. Between 1976 and 1980 he won the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon four times each. He broke the American record twice at Boston (2:09:55 in 1975 and 2:09:27 in 1979).

Mike – “Bill Rodgers. I grew up idolizing him and his marathon accomplishments and he inspired me to really believe that “any day can be your day” and he is the face of the #BostonMarathon.”


Robin – “Bill is from Boston and is probably as familiar with the course and the history of the Boston Marathon as anyone. I think it would be very fun and informative to run with him and to learn from his experiences.”

Ultramarathoner and our expert Joshua Holmes notes, “He became such a hero to many across the United States by winning the race four times, including three wins in a row. Since then ‘Boston Bill’ has remained such a great ambassador for the race and the sport of marathon running.”

Nicole chose Olympian Deena Kastor, who currently holds the American women’s records in both marathon and half-marathon racing.

Nicole – My dream pacer for #BostonMarathon would be @DeenaKastor. She is an inspiring masters and mother runner.

Run Like a Mother author Sarah Bowen Shea believes Nicole picked a winning choice for running partner: “I’m with you: Deena Kastor is a big-hearted mother runner with incredible racing savvy (hello, Olympic bronze medal in the marathon!). Plus, she’s an incredible baker, so I suspect she’d have cookies for refueling post-race!”

Matt chose a runner that left him star-struck after an encounter–Gold Medal Winner Joan Benoit Samuelson. In 1979 she won the Boston Marathon knocking eight minutes off the competition record. In 1983 she repeated her victory, that year taking more than two minutes off the world record.

Matt – Joan Benoit Samuelson. But it’s not just her talent that I respect. I also admire her balanced approach to running and life and her passionate spirit. When I met Joanie at the 2011 Boston Marathon while covering the event as a reporter, I was so star-struck I could barely articulate the questions I’d prepared for her. I’ll never forget her answer to one of them: “It’s all about the passion,” she said. “Without passion there’s no fire, and without fire, nothing burns.

Not all of our runners chose an acclaimed athlete for a pacing partner. A few of our runners chose celebrities to hang out with because, if given the opportunity, why not? Amazingly, they didn’t just choose normal celebrities, they chose running celebrities.

NashKevin Hart. I love the guy’s energy and positivity. He’s a motivator. He started doing impromptu 5k runs while he was on tour last year. Thousands of people turn out to run with him. He would stay and high-five everybody until the last person crossed the finish line. I think he’s a great ambassador for the sport of running. Plus, I’m know his humor would keep me distracted during the toughest miles.


Louie – If I could have a celebrity running partner, I’d go with Sean Astin.  That’s right, Sean Astin. The dude has run sub 5 in the marathon, was in Goonies, and was the title character in one of the finest films ever created…Rudy. We’d have plenty to talk about.

Our experts highly approve of Sean Astin for a running buddy. Bob Babbitt remarks on how Sean showed some love to fellow expert Dave McGillivray, “He not only ran Boston last April to support the Martin Richards charity, he borrowed a bike and went back out on the course late at night in the rain to support Race Director Dave McGillivray who, after most of the runners are done, goes back to Hopkinton to run the marathon and to keep his Boston streak alive.” Sarah Bowen Shea remembers her own special encounter with Sean, “I got to meet Sean Astin at a few runDisney events. With ‘Sam Gamgee’ by your side from Hopkinton to Boston, you’d be sure to have ringing success!!”

One chosen celebrity is a serious runner, who gets faster with each race–a trait Donna can really relate to and admire.

Donna – I would love to meet Natalie Morales, from the Today Show. She is an inspiring woman, both as a person and a runner. Natalie’s running history is amazing. She is a very busy working mother, and her running career keeps improving.  I love that she ran her first marathon in 4:22, her second in 4:15, her third in 3:43, and her fourth in 3:31.

Expert Bob Babbitt admires Natalie’s charitable spirit, “The amazing Natalie Morales is not only an amazingly dedicated runner and triathlete, but is also someone always looking to give back. For the past three years Natalie and her co-host Willie Geist have volunteered their time to emcee our Challenged Athletes Foundation fundraising gala called the ‘Heroes, Heart and Hope’ in New York City. She has also showcased a number our challenged athletes on her show and used her platform to fundraise for CAF. Natalie is definitely one a of a kind!”

All of our runners have chosen strategic pacing partners–from world class athletes to comedians–that can motivate, challenge, and entertain. These choices may reveal some very important things about our runners as they prepare for Boston. This is more than just spending imaginary miles with a celebrity. It’s quite possibly a little glimpse into the kind of runner and person they’d imagine themselves to be.

Who would you want your pacing buddy to be? Join the conversation with #HylandsFYFL.

Check out what our runners and others are saying.

Meet our 10 runners and read their bios. 

Find out more about Hyland’s Leg Cramps.