Through the Brandenburg Gate

Dear Family and Friends,

When I ran my first marathon in October 2008, i had never imagined that running would become a part of my life. I still can’t say for sure that I like to run, but I can say, without a doubt, that I enjoy large cheering crowds, crossing finishing lines, and collecting marathon medals :)

The Berlin marathon was my first marathon overseas so I was nervous and excited at the same time. Things were pretty much on track for me–easy flight, lovely hotel, and great weather forecast for marathon day. Anyone who knows me knows that i sleep well :) Even with all the nervousness and anxiety, I slept like a baby the night before my marathon.

On September 29th 2013, as i approached the start line i realized i had forgotten my gummy worms. Although I perceived this as a sign of bad luck, i forced myself to not think much about it. I prayed as I walked to the start line. As the race began, feelings of nervousness disappeared and soon after, I was on a runner’s high because of the large cheering crowds. I felt good throughout the race. There was some leg pain, but not until mile 22. I forgot about the pain when I saw my lovely friend, Catherine, cheering for me. There were many other people with cheering signs but I can’t read German so I missed out on enjoying them! But several people encouraged me by yelling ‘Boston Strong’ as written on my shirt! Of course, i smiled at all the cameras i could see on the race course. And finally, i crossed the finish line, with my hands up in the air and a huge smile on my face at time 5:23:27. Out of all the marathons I have completed, this marathon had the best victory crossing. As I ran past the Brandenburg gate, I felt bittersweet as I realized the race was over….

Catherine met me at the family meeting area with a congratulatory sign! We celebrated happily over dinner that night. I spent the next day recovering. My recovery was so smooth that by the third day, i was out sight-seeing all over Berlin. Overall, my first trip to Europe was memorable. I made some new marathon friends who will now be reading this e-mail :) We, as runners, bonded over past and future races! Yes, there will be future races, but for now I’ll just enjoy my Berlin marathon medal!

Thanks to all of you for the love and encouraging messages! Thanks to my donors for helping me reach my fundraising target. And thanks to Team for Kids for doing such valuable work in the community! I am attaching several pictures for you, my lovely supporters, to share my experiences.

Yours in running,

Rupal Shah currently resides in Boston, MA. She is originally from Moshi, Tanzania. Currently, she is a full time student at Boston University, School of Public Health where she’s pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Health while concentrating in International Health and Epidemiology with a focus on Infectious Diseases. Prior to enrolling in this Master’s degree program, she worked at Harvard University, School of Public Health in their Infectious Diseases and Immunology Department in a Tuberculosis Laboratory. Her long-term goals are to work in the field of Infectious Diseases with rural populations. Her love for running began in 2008 when she ran her first marathon. She just completed her fourth marathon in September 2013 and is currently training to run the world-famous Boston marathon in April 2014. She wasn’t able to cross the finish line when she ran the Boston marathon this year so she hopes to cross that historic finish line next year! f you have any more questions or thoughts about this story, Rupal can be reached at