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Loudoun County mother and daughter to run this year’s Boston Marathon

Dorothy Beal of Leesburg will run the Boston Marathon Monday.
Leesburg's Dorothy Beal wasn’t always a runner.

“In college I was really unhappy, drinking all the time, smoking all the time, I was overweight,” Beal recalls. “My mom suggested I start running, and I begrudgingly did it just to lose the weight. Then, when I graduated college, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life, so my mom suggested I train for and run a marathon just to have something to focus on. After completing my first marathon I was hooked. I went from thinking there’s no way I could do that to having done it.”

Beal has now run 32 marathons and writes a running blog called “Mile Posts.” This weekend she'll compete in her fifth Boston Marathon.

But Beal still has some catching up to do. Her mom, Lesley Cranshaw, who lives in Ashburn and manages Lou Lou Boutique in Leesburg, has run 34 marathons and this will be her 10th Boston Marathon. The mother and daughter will race on a team with 10 other women sponsored by Hyland’s, a homeopathic remedies company.

Cranshaw has qualified for every Boston Marathon for the last decade, and though Beal didn’t technically qualify for the Boston Marathon this year, she can run as a member of a sponsored team.

“That can be a contentious thing with a lot of runners,” Beal laughs. “The Boston Marathon does so much to support charities, so if you don’t qualify you can still run for a charity or for a sponsor—and the sponsors often support charities as well. When Hyland’s approached me with this opportunity to participate in their 'Find Yourself, Find the Finish Line' campaign, I couldn’t turn it down. I get to run with my mom and 10 other incredible women from around the country.”

We are heeerrreeee!! ???????? #irunthisbody #bostonmarathon

A post shared by Dorothy Beal | #irunthisbody (@mileposts) on

The 2017 Boston Marathon will mark the 50th anniversary of the first woman, Kathrine Switzer, running Boston as a numbered entry. She wasn’t actually the first woman to run the Boston race—Bobbi Gibb had already run the marathon in 1966 just by jumping in the race—but when Switzer ran in 1967, she had registered and qualified as “K.V. Switzer.” They didn’t know she was female. When the race started and race officials realized they had a woman running, they tried to pull her off course. But Switzer’s boyfriend, who was also running, body-checked the race official and Switzer kept running, determined to finish the race.

This gives Beal a lot of hope for women and the future 50.

“They thought a woman’s uterus would fall out if she ran. It sounds ridiculous now, but that’s what these women were up against. And if someone tried to pull me off course now? And Switzer knew she had to finish the race, because if she didn’t it could be spun as, 'Oh, women really can’t run a marathon.’ She finished, and she beat more than half of the other runners—all men. Not only did she prove that women could run, but that they could run better than a lot of men. It’s so empowering to know how far we’ve come, and it gives me hope for how far we have to go. The stuff women have to contend with today? We’ll be laughing at it in 50 years.”

When asked about what sort of training goes into running the Boston marathon, Beal cheerfully explains how great she thinks Loudoun is for running.

“Leesburg is so perfect for training. I live on Dry Mill road, and the stretch of W&OD trail that runs alongside it is all uphill. It’s tough. But I’m also running by horse farms and the fairgrounds. It’s nice. And the Boston Marathon is kind of hilly. We’ve got hills too,” she said.

The Boston Marathon will take place Monday. Beal on Saturday participated in a panel hosted by Runner’s World magazine with other female runners—including Katherine Switzer.

Dorothy Beal and Lesley Cranshaw, both Loudoun County residents, are excited to run Monday's Boston Marathon.


Support and luck to you both!

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