Austin Rognes, a first year student in the Software Engineering program at Iowa State University, crossed the finish line of the 2019 Boston Marathon with an impressive time of 2 hours and 51 minutes. Recognized as the oldest annual marathon event in the world, this race is also one of the most famous. With its age, as well as its renowned rigor, this year’s competition marks its 123rd year in existence, welcoming 30,000 runners and around a half million spectators.
To register for Boston, male athletes ages 18-34 must qualify by finishing a previous marathon in under three hours. As a high school student of Ankeny, Iowa, he flew through the IMT Des Marathon with a final time of 2:57, making him eligible to compete. Rognes recounts that he found out via email that Boston could be a reality shortly after finishing his first marathon. That notification served as the catalyst, which sparked two years of calculations and preparations that carried him to New England in April.
The day of the race opened with a stormy start that fueled a sense of solidarity and community.
“Right before the marathon in the morning, it rained and everyone got soaked. There were like thousands of people with water flooding the streets, tripping in puddles…It was crazy…but everyone was sharing everything [gloves, jackets]. Everyone was really nice,” Rognes recalled.
This neighborly atmosphere has become an even more integral part of the Boston Marathon since the bombing that occurred six years ago. Since then, initiatives, such as One Boston Day, remember athletes and families affected by the tragedy, while also celebrating humanity, harmony and the bonds that bring us together.
Austin finds his own inner balance through a combination of coding and running. He embraced both of these areas right around his eighth grade year in middle school.
“Running is the first thing I think of when I wake up...and [in Software] I get to focus on what I enjoy and learn what I want to learn...They are polar opposites that balance. One is creative and one is monotone and gets you through things,” reflects Rognes.
“They are the two pillars of my foundation.”