Co-ops help prepare athletes

Co-ops help prepare athletes

By Taimi Arvidson

Not many people can say the record breaker of this year’s Boston Marathon is their mini golf partner.

“My favorite Kenyan [Robert Cheruiyot] won and he was my golf partner in the mini golf tournament. I am so proud he broke the record,” said middler communications major Anna Millhiser after Monday’s race.

Through their co-op with TRACS, Inc., students like Millhiser have had hands-on experience with the elite athletes of the Boston Marathon. This sports management and event firm has hosted the Elite Athlete Village since 1989. They also give the fastest and most accurate results to CBS4’s live coverage on race day through their Race SpotWatch Spotter’s Network. Students who are not currently on co-op with TRACS, Inc., often return as volunteers for the firm during the marathon.

TRACS, Inc., provides many different marathon-related services to the John Hancock Financial Services, Inc., the primary sponsor of the Boston Marathon. Mainly, they oversee all aspects of the elite athletes’ lives in the two weeks prior to race day, including transportation, meals, credentials, health care, entertainment, press requests and course tours.

“[We] manage [and] organize most aspects of the athlete’s lives once they arrive and the days leading up to the marathon,” said Fred Treseler, TRACS, Inc. founder and president. “We basically do everything we can to facilitate their involvement in the event.”

The co-op students live with the athletes two weeks prior to race day in the Elite Athlete Village at John Hancock Hotel and Conference Center, often working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“Living with the athletes gives you a whole new perspective on the race because you really see the work and training they put in,” said current co-op Allison Kearns, a sophomore communications major. “You really see it as an athletic competition instead of just an event.”

Millhiser, who did the co-op last year, returned to volunteer again this year because she enjoyed the experience so much.

“I can remember sitting in a meeting with a doctor regarding one of our elite athletes not being able to run a few days before the race,” Millhiser said. “That kind of hands-on experience and being in the middle of such a big operation was the best part of the village.”

The firm also conducts the “Adopt-A-Marathoner” program. Since 1993, the program has assisted teachers at Elmwood Elementary School in Hopkinton in teaching students about the culture and lifestyle of the Kenyan athletes. Prior to race day, the athletes go to the school where the entire student body participates in an event complete with a rock music, smoke, lights, and Kenyan and American flags.

“The athletes are treated like rock stars,” Kearns said.

Kelly McIsaac, a former co-op for TRACS, Inc. returned as a volunteer this year.

“I think Elmwood is definitely my favorite experience,” the senior marketing and finance business major said. “Also, I think the opportunity to get to know the athletes on a personal level is great,” she said.

Working at TRACS, Inc., gives students the opportunity to gain not only valuable professional experience but also the chance to make friends with the athletes.

“After living with the athletes for two weeks, you become friends,” Millhiser said. “When you are watching them run, it is not like you are rooting for the person with the best odds or the most famous, you are rooting for people you know and you feel like you were a part of their success.”

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