MCCULLERS COLUMN: For Montana’s Ferrington, a race worth running

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Well over 1,000 marathons are held across the United States each year, but none rival the Boston Marathon in prestige.

It is one of only a handful of marathons in the world with stringent qualifying standards, and it draws approximately 30,000 of the world’s most elite marathoners to its famed course every year.

It is also, as Montana native and Boston resident Nick Ferrington is quick to note, as much a part of the city’s identity as Fenway Park or Boston cream pie.

“Marathon Monday is essentially a holiday here,” Ferrington said. “A lot of businesses are closed. Kids don’t go to school.”

But for Ferrington, a 2004 Whitefish High grad and University of Montana alum who has lived in Boston since 2011, the venerable marathon is more than another integral part of the city he’s come to love.

Like so many other Bostonians, Ferrington’s plans for April 15, 2013, were made with the Boston Marathon as the centerpiece.

He planned to rise early and meet up with friends at McGreevy’s, an Irish pub near the marathon finish line. But after a late night at work that had finished just hours earlier, Ferrington instead elected to push his plans back a few hours.

“I was way too tired to get up and go basically start day-drinking at 11 a.m.,” Ferrington said with a chuckle, “so I slept in.”

Doing so may have saved his life.

Ferrington was en route to his destination just before 3 p.m., when two bombs detonated near the finish area, killing three and injuring several hundred.

“You always get that thought — what if I had woken up 10 minutes earlier?” he said.

As he surveyed the memorial made up of marathon bibs, running shoes, flowers and hand-written notes in the days that followed, Ferrington vowed he would one day complete the Boston Marathon.

He will attempt to do so Monday, but not just for himself and the victims of the 2013 bombing, but also for people in need all across New England.

Ferrington, a part-time tour guide at Fenway Park, will join about a dozen other Red Sox employees in running for the Red Sox Foundation, the baseball team’s charity that benefits causes ranging from veterans’ healthcare to college scholarships for economically disadvantaged children to after-school programs for at-risk youth.

At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Ferrington admits he’s “not your typical marathon runner.” But he hopes to break the six-hour threshold on the Boston Marathon’s grueling course, a mark he’s never before hit.

He hopes an eclectic music playlist, inspiration derived from his experience at the 2013 marathon, the worthy cause he runs for and pride in the home state he represents will be enough to push him over the infamous Heartbreak Hill and toward his goal.

“Right next to my Red Sox logo on my bib, I’ll be wearing my Montana state pin,” he said. “I’m running this as much for Montana as I am for the city of Boston.”

Ferrington will accept donations toward the Red Sox Foundation at nickrunningboston.com through the end of May.

Evan McCullers is a sports reporter and columnist for the Daily Inter Lake. He can be contacted by phone at (406) 758-4463 or by email at emccullers@dailyinterlake.com.

Nick Ferrington: looks forward to crowd in downtown Boston and running through towns he’s never visited or run through; playlist a mix of electronic dance music and cool-down music; raising Monday until end of May; nickrunningboston.com; just less than $1,800 raised so far toward $7,000 goal

“It’s kind of nice knowing that all this money that all our team is raising is not just going to try to help one group of people, but it’s going to be distributed to a lot of different great folks around the New England area.”

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