Editor’s Note: The following post was written by one of our employees, Liz Martin, who ran her first Boston Marathon this year on behalf of Gentle Giant and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We are so proud of her and the four other Gentle Giant employees who completed the race! This is Liz’s personal account of her journey to the finish line.
It isn’t every day that your employer can make a 30-year-old dream come true. That is just the type of company that Gentle Giant is for its employees. Having grown up on the Boston Marathon course, participating in the famed race has topped my bucket list for three decades. Thanks to Gentle Giant, I have finally done it.
For the last 22 years, Gentle Giant Moving Company has served as the official moving and storage partner of the Boston Marathon. Every year the company donates storage space, provides delivery and distribution resources, and fills the ranks of race day volunteers. It is an event Gentle Giant is proud to support, with a long-shared tradition in both athletic excellence and community engagement. Every year, Gentle Giant selects five lucky employees to represent the company and team up with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to raise funds in support of their efforts to combat childhood cancer.
Having run several marathons, I know the physical and mental demands of preparing for race day. With a core focus on health and wellness, Gentle Giant goes above and beyond to offer benefits and flexibility that allow employees to put in the necessary work to get fit and stay healthy. I’ve never trained in a work environment that provided such a tremendous level of support to help me reach my goals.
With a company gym on-site and free membership to a local gym, all the runners’ workout needs were met. Long, snowy winter with treacherous running paths? Need to do a little low impact cardio to avoid injury? Time to lift a few weights to target troubled areas? Gentle Giant offers plenty of opportunity for runners to work through their every training need. The company chiropractor, who is also a CrossFit coach, was on call for any bumps in the process and helped keep the athletes healthy and happy. Gentle Giant offers an important work-life balance that allows employees to tackle outside obligations, including daily training runs, while managing their work load in a positive environment.
Race day arrived with some of the worst Boston Marathon weather in history; runners battled the elements from start to finish. At times, the rain came down so hard that spectators were hardly visible, and the aid stations appeared suddenly out of nowhere like a mirage. The wind threatened to fill runner’s raincoats like sails and carry them the wrong way down the course. The bone-chilling cold filled medical tents with shivering athletes at every turn. It was one for the ages and I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the opportunity to run this race with the aid of Gentle Giant.
The support leading up to the Boston Marathon was topped off by an unparalleled race day experience. The day started with a friendly send off from the fleet of Gentle Giant trucks at the finish line area. Before boarding the buses to the start line, I exchanged high fives and hugs with coworkers waiting for their volunteer tasks to begin. They sent me to the start with a boost of encouragement and promised to have more high fives ready several hours later when I crossed the finish line.
After a long, cold bus ride full of anticipation, we arrived at the start line and gingerly tip-toed through the mud pit of the Athletes Village to the warm, dry home of another Gentle Giant employee. Shoes were changed, last minute food was consumed, and the tension was broken by friendly laughter. It was the perfect pre-race environment, rain or shine – but especially rain. From there, all that stood between us and the Gentle Giant finish area trucks were 26.2 miles.
Many hours later, I crossed the finish line overcome with emotion at an experience that will likely never be topped. In a daze, I was quickly funneled into the warm welcome from many coworkers who helped lift me into the shelter of a truck. Dry clothes, water, snacks, and huge smiles topped off a day full of enormous gratitude for the support of Gentle Giant.
In all my daydreaming about someday running the Boston Marathon, I never imagined it would be my employer who helped me finally traverse those 26.2 miles. From Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, and into the heart of my fair city, Gentle Giant was with me every step of the way. Hats off to my favorite company for finally making this dream come true.