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Former Patriots fullback James Develin runs Boston Marathon, ‘the Super Bowl of marathons’

James Develin was on injured reserve during the 2019 season when he started having this crazy thought that had already been on his mind.

The then-New England Patriots fullback — all 6-3, 255 pounds of him — wanted to run the Boston Marathon.

During that period, Develin, a Boyertown grad, and David Andrews were both on IR and waking up early to train at Edge Performance Systems in Foxboro, Mass. Develin turned to his teammate and one of the trainers at EPS to ask them what they thought of the possibility of him running those iconic 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boylston Street.

They weren’t so convinced. Fullbacks aren’t exactly known for running marathons.

“You’re 255,” they told him. “That’s a lot of pounding on your joints.”

Develin made a mental note of that. Undrafted out of Brown, the fullback became a core member of the Patriots and a three-time Super Bowl champion. He was used to being doubted.

“Doubt has always driven me through my football career,” Develin said.

After a career of paving the way for Patriots runners, now he’s taking the lead. Develin, who retired from football in 2020, finally scratched that itch Monday, when he ran the historic Boston Marathon — the 125th installment, and first in October — as he represented the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, the organization inspired by the former Patriots offensive lineman that provides supports for cancer patients and their families across New England.

Develin finished in 4:27.17.

“It was a surreal experience, honestly,” Develin told WBZ-TV in Boston following the race. “I didn’t know what to expect. This was my first experience at the marathon, and it was absolutely awesome from Mile 1 to 26.2. It was a great time.”

Develin always has been interested in running. When he was younger, he cross-trained with boxing, which set a foundation for distance running. He wasn’t going long miles like he has during marathon training and did on Monday, but he loved it.

“I got a little bit of a mental thing out of it,” Develin said during his preparation for the race. “It was all about just embracing the suck, because nobody likes to run, especially over a mile.”

It was actually in 2018 when the idea of running Boston first became a possibility to Develin. Former Patriots offensive lineman Ryan Wendell was in town with Andruzzi, and the they were catching up in the weight room at Gillette Stadium when Wendell told him he was running the Boston Marathon, also for Andruzzi’s foundation.

Develin was inspired. As a similarly built football player — a “human battering ram,” he described himself — it wasn’t really something that he had thought about.

“He was an offensive lineman so you never really think an O-lineman can put in 26.2, but he did it,” Develin said. “I just admired that honestly. … You just don’t associate big football players with running that kind of distance, but he was embracing the challenge and so I really respected that. It made an impact on me. …

“I was like, ‘You know what, that would be a really cool challenge to try to take on after I’m done playing.’”

Develin retired in April 2020 and continued to train and lift weights, but it eventually got monotonous without any goals to reach for, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

“I just started thinking, I gotta do something to spark things a little bit,” Develin said.

He turned to running. One mile turned to two, eventually to 10, and one Saturday morning, he woke up and ran a half marathon on his own. He loved the mental and physical challenge it provided.

When Develin saw the news earlier this year that the Boston Marathon was being pushed back from its traditional April date to Oct. 11, he reached out to Andruzzi about getting a spot on his Boston Marathon team. It wasn’t long before he was accepted.

Develin said he’s even surprised himself with training, which hasn’t been easy. Not only is he training for his first marathon, but he also moved this summer. And with four kids, he had to get creative with his time management. He even brought them on some of his shorter runs, with strollers and shoulder straps helping the cause.

“It’s been really cool,” Develin said. “That’s the other thing, trying to set an example for them because that was out of my comfort zone, But like I said before, just embracing the challenge and go to work every day trying to accomplish this goal, I have to do it the right way for my kids and set the example.”

Develin has never been to the Boston Marathon, but as a Brown grad and with the Patriots for eight seasons, he’s well aware of what it means. And he’s taking it just as seriously as any of the big championship games he played in for the Patriots.

“I’ve been given a unique platform to be involved in something like this,” Develin said. “It’s honestly like the Super Bowl of marathons, so I jumped at that opportunity. I’m really just looking forward to being a part of this. It’s something I’ve never done, but why not try to start at the top?”

To support the Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s Boston Marathon team, visit teamjaf.org.


Source: Berkshire mont

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