Team BIDMC Readies for First Virtual Boston Marathon

BIDMC Contributor

AUGUST 24, 2020

Team BIDMC's Dr. Vinay Verma and Karin and Kris Laping
Members of Team BIDMC for the 2020 Boston Marathon include (from left): Dr. Vinay Verma and sisters Karin and Kris Laping.

When psychiatrist Dhanviney (Vinay) Verma, MD, joined BIDMC's 2020 Boston Marathon team, he never could have predicted the change of events that occurred this spring.

"I tapered down my training and redirected all of my efforts to serving our communities in ways that our times truly demanded," Verma says.

In May, the City of Boston announced the cancellation of the Marathon as a mass participation running event with the safety of participants and spectators in mind. As a result, the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) decided that the 124th Boston Marathon would be held as a virtual event in September.

"Like many others, I was initially disappointed to not have the chance to fully experience the excitement of this iconic race," says Verma, who is running in support of the Healthy Champions program at Bowdoin Street Health Center. "But I knew I couldn't back down from this commitment because, even more so now, this was a chance for me to honor the dedication, patience and commitment of my colleagues. Similar to running, which requires so much of your raw determination and hard work, the staff at the health center has worked tirelessly amid a rapidly evolving pandemic."

To date, 37 runners are part of Team BIDMC's virtual marathon team, running in support of a variety of funds that are critical to the medical center. Each runner determines their own 26.2-mile course, which must be completed on a single day during the week of Sept. 7-14.

"There are definitely some silver linings," Verma says. "I was able to ramp up my training much smarter this time around to prevent injury, and to continue fundraising. I'm a lot more comfortable and relaxed during my long runs now – I've even shaved off some time!"

Verma has mapped out two potential courses along the Mystic Valley Parkway and the Charles River Esplanade, and says he will pick his route depending on the weather forecast for that week.

BIDMC teammate Kris Laping, Chief Development Officer for BIDMC and Beth Israel Lahey Health, says she is also looking forward to picking her own route. "No infamous Heartbreak Hill," she laughs.

Laping, who ran the Boston Marathon with her daughter in 2019, says she had hung up her running shoes and planned to sit this year out. "But then I found out this spring that BIDMC had received extra team entries from the B.A.A. dedicated to COVID-19 relief. My gym was closed and I had already been running outside more than usual," she says. "I couldn't stop thinking about it and now here I am, training for another marathon."

Laping joined Team BIDMC with one of the special bib entries awarded to BIDMC by John Hancock in partnership with the B.A.A. as part of a "You are Essential, We are Grateful" campaign. At BIDMC, the money raised by these runners will directly benefit the Healthcare Heroes Fund, created to support the medical center's crisis response on the frontline of the pandemic.

"My daughter is a NICU nurse at BIDMC and has been working alongside her amazing colleagues who never wavered in providing the best possible care during this challenging, difficult time. Running is my way to give back to those who have given so much," Laping says.

One of Laping's silver linings is getting to run this virtual race with her sister, Karin.

"Karin is a grateful patient of BIDMC's Cancer Center and decided to join Team BIDMC to support the Healthcare Heroes fund for many of the same reasons as me. What's fun is that we're very similar in pace so we are literally running every mile together as we train," she says.

While the summer heat poses new challenges for runners, Laping says she's okay with it. "I'll take this humidity over bundling up to run on the ice and snow any day!" she says. "Our route has plenty of shade and we’ll carry water with us. We're also asking our family and friends to be our water stops and cheer for us."

Like Laping, Verma has pushed through training during the hot summer months, never losing sight of his motivation. "When I need inspiration to get me through the last few miles, I think of the reasons of why I am doing this," he says. "Like other runners on the team, I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity to give back to our larger BIDMC family. It's truly an honor!"

Team BIDMC is running to support a variety of programs, including the Cancer Center, Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology, the Klarman Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the Annual Fund, kidney disease research, Bowdoin Street Health Center's Healthy Champions, and the Healthcare Heroes Fund. Several runners are also supporting BID Needham, Milton and Plymouth. Learn more and support Team BIDMC at treadstrong.org.

About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, a new health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,000 physicians and 35,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.