Edina woman runs her own 'heroes' marathon

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An Edina woman who qualified for the Boston Marathon instead ran her own “heroes tour” through the Twin Cities.

The Boston Marathon, which was scheduled for Monday, has been postponed until September due to COVID-19.

Ellen Hunter Gans put together her own solo marathon route through Minneapolis and St. Paul, running by the homes of heroes in her life and waving at them as she passed.

“It’s just a long run with a little more meaning behind it,” Hunter Gans said. “It’s about controlling what you can control and making the best of whatever situation you find yourself in.”

Hunter Gans said the first stop was outside her parents’ home in St. Paul, followed by her grandparents’ home a few blocks away.

"They are just extraordinary people,” Hunter Gans said. “They are tough as nails and they never get scared."

On her way back across the Mississippi River, she said she was able to wave at her brother, who recently gave up his job to care for their father, and his wife, a school administrator.

"She just has been working around the clock to try to advocate for students and facilitate distance learning,” Hunter Gans said.

She was also able to run by the home of her sister-in-law, who is a nurse, and finished at her own home with her husband, who works in disability services.

“There’s a lot of people doing a lot of really impressive things right now and this marathon was not really one of them, but I’m still really grateful to have had the opportunity to do it,” Hunter Gans said. “It was surreal to see the way this community is facing this pandemic, so much grace and bravery, just the best of humanity out there and I feel so fortunate that I had a chance to see that."

The marathon would have been her 25th marathon. She has qualified for the Boston Marathon several times, including in 2013.

“I ended up getting stopped less than a half mile before the finish line when the bombs went off with the terrorist attacks,” Hunter Gans said.

She said, even though this year’s race was not what she expected, she found that it fostered a renewed sense of gratitude in her life.

“My street erupted in cheers as I made the final corner,” Hunter Gans recalled. “It wasn’t quite the same as the famous ‘Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston’ that they talk about as the final turns of the Boston Marathon, but in a lot of ways this was even better."

Hunter Gans ran all 26.2 miles wearing a mask, followed social distancing protocols and ran at a slower pace than usual so as not to risk getting hurt and putting any extra burden on health care workers.

If the Boston Marathon goes on as scheduled in September, she plans to be there.