A neighborly Boston Marathon for Douglas’s Kelly Manning
Douglas Fire Department Assistant Chief Kelly Manning receives her medal from Wanda Reynolds of Webster after finishing the 2023 Boston Marathon.
By ROD LEE
Kelly Manning, who is assistant fire chief in the town of Douglas, knows all about the heartbreak that can come to runners in the Boston Marathon; and not just from that famous hill competitors have to deal with late in the race.
Taking part in the 127th Boston Marathon on April 17th—her third—Ms. Manning finished with a time of 4 hours and 24 minutes.
“It was not my best but with this being the tenth anniversary of the bombing I wanted to run,” she said during a telephone conversation on May 1st.
Assistant Chief Manning is used to overcoming challenges, as for instance when she puts in the work on trails and obstacles courses necessary to be in condition to run 26.2 miles.
Also, in 2020, she was named full-time assistant fire chief in Douglas after fourteen years as a call member of the Douglas FD. Her promotion generated a flood of congratulations. “Hell of a firefighter and an absolute vault of knowledge. Any department is lucky to have her,” Sean Matthew wrote on Facebook. “A well-deserved promotion and it’s fantastic to see female leadership in the fire service,” was the comment posted by Michelle Wills.
Disappointed as she was with the clocking she posted in the nation’s most famous foot race, Ms. Manning was pleased that she was presented with a medal at the finish line by Wanda Reynolds of Webster. Entirely a coincidence, but satisfying in that Ms. Manning knows members of Ms. Reynolds’ family; it was a neighbor-to-neighbor moment that left both smiling. It is also one of those many stories that come out of the Boston Marathon that makes the event a world-renowned drawing card.
As evidence that she is not deterred by her performance, Ms. Manning was planning to run the Providence Marathon the first weekend in May in an attempt to qualify for Boston 2024.
Her Boston debut came in 2019 when she ran in memory of fallen Worcester firefighter Chris Roy, in support of Firefighter Roy’s daughter.
As for Ms. Reynolds, she is apparently one of the thousands of volunteers who keep the Boston Marathon working like a fine watch. They hail from at least forty-four states and nineteen countries, and include medical personnel, law enforcement and security, according to the Boston Athletic Association.
Ms. Reynolds did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment about her experience greeting Ms. Manning on race day.
Meanwhile, a longtime volunteer, who has been associated with the Boston Marathon for approximately thirty years, snapped a photo of Ms. Reynolds with Ms. Manning on Boylston Street; he wishes to remain anonymous, saying “this story is about them, not me.”
Ms. Manning describes the Boston Marathon as “one of the toughest” races, requiring “a lot of training.”
She can take pride in the fact that both elite women’s marathon running, and, similarly, amateur participation in the sport, is growing, hitting new heights every year, according to The New York Times.
Boston’s ranks are expanding even faster, year-to-year, than those of the men. Fourteen of this year’s elite women runners at the start of the Boston Marathon had previously run a marathon in under 2:21.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.