In the running community, the Boston Marathon is considered to be one of the elite races in country every year. While an event like the New York Marathon often grabs more headlines and attention in the area, the Boston race is thought of by many as the pinnacle event for serious runners. In recent years, American distance running in the competitive sphere has taken tremendous strides forward (forgive the pun). Performances in the recent Olympic Games by American runners are evidence of a wave of strong performances.

One such performance came in the recent Boston marathon by Darien’s own Heather Pech. Pech did not just show well, or beat a personal goal. Pech was the first woman in the age 55-59 bracket to finish, winning the group. Pech ran the race in 3:10:30, averaging just over seven minutes per mile. The time was good for first in a group of 698 runners, the top 1.8% of female runners, and the top 9% of all runners in the marathon.

“This was the first time I won my group at the Boston Marathon, which was a lifetime dream,” Pech said. “It was surreal. I was in an award ceremony with Galen Rupp.”

Rupp finished second overall in the marathon, and is an American as well.

Pech says she runs between 80 and 90 miles a week. “I love it,” Pech said, explaining that she began taking running seriously in 2003. “My father was a runner,” Pech said, setting the goal of running the NYC Marathon.

“It’s something I sort of do with him,” Pech said.

And now, Pech finds herself atop the podium at one of the most challenging races in the nation.

“I think Boston is the most elite, the pinnacle of running,” said Pech, “The course is very tough, the hills are tough, where they’re place, it’s challenging.”

Pech also said that coming into the race and during it, she thought she could show well. “The heat was brutal. The wind was kind of across the body, not a tail wind like they had said it might be. I had to adjust several times. I had a few goals and I thought I could podium. It was a tough day,” said Pech.

Pech first ran the Boston Marathon in 2011, and ran it the year the finish line was attacked.

“I had finished around 1:30 in the afternoon, and the bomb went off around 3,” Pech said. She was with her family at a Starbucks barely a block from the site of the blast when they heard the bomb go off. Pech’s husband is a doctor who did his residency in the Air Force, and “he knew immediately it was a bomb,” Pech said.

Pech continues to run, motivated by her family. All three of Pech’s daughters attend or attended school in Boston, with her youngest currently at MIT. “I’m propelled by my girls,” Pech said, describing the feeling of seeing her youngest daughter and her friends on the course, cheering her on.

Pech also works to grow the popularity of running in Darien. She coaches middle school age kids who want to run as well.

“They’re called The Blazers. It’s a really fun group. We had a runner go to nationals this year,” said Pech. The runners Pech coaches are between 4th and 9th grade.

“It’s genderless, in the sense that it’s girls and boys. We have assistant coaches from the varsity teams. It really isn’t gender and age specific. That’s a marvelous thing,” Pech said, highlighting her pride in the sort of grassroots nature of the program.

Pech continues to strive towards new goals as a runner. “I’d like to break 3,” Pech said, as she works towards breaking the three-hour barrier in a marathon time. Motivated by her love of family and her father, Pech still runs, about 90 miles per week, towards her goals.