3 Flagstaff women qualified for virtual Boston Marathon

(Courtesy: Tyler Whitmang Boylston Street for the Day)

Three Flagstaff women didn't let the COVID-19 pandemic stop them from participating in the world-famous Boston Marathon, the only difference is that their race will now be virtual.

Stephanie, Staci and Beth all qualified for the elite event, only to see the pandemic ruin their dreams.

"We would have been in Boston in April.. nobody is having any major races anywhere in the world, so I don't even think the September one would have been feasible.. we are all hoping we get to go in April of 2021," said Beth McManis.

They won't be pounding the streets of "Beantown," instead the race will be in the thin air of Flagstaff at 7,000 feet elevation.

"In trying to get ready for it, we've gone up into the peaks up on the high mountain, topping out at Agassiz Peak.. just trying to get a little bit higher so that we can adapt down here at 7,000 feet," said Staci Whitman.

"We're not expecting to run our personal best, but we are expecting to have a good time," added Stephanie Hunt.

While they are having a good time, they will be fundraising for the Best Life Ever Foundation, a Flagstaff-based organization dedicated to spreading kindness in their community.

"We decided to add more meaning to our miles so we decided to do a location foundation, BLE, or Best Life Ever. They like to spread kindness in the Flagstaff community with the hope that people will pay it forward.. I think that we all need a little more kindess in this world," said Stephanie.

To help the BLE, Stephanie, Staci and Beth will run their race with the San Francisco Peaks in the background and face masks in hand.

"On Saturday [Sept. 12], we'll be carrying masks because we will have support people along the course just giving us water, so when we get in contact with them, we'll be wearing masks," said Beth.

And their friends and supporters know to practice safe social distancing.

"They are going to have face masks on hand at the aid station they are doing for us, then we ask people if they want to come cheer us on that they practice safe social distancing as well. I've had a number of friends who said, yeah, they're going to come and cheer us on," said Staci.

And to make it special, they will rename the street where the finish line sits after the famous Boylston Street in Boston. They will finish in a big archway of balloons.

"The last street that you run down in Boston is Boylston Street, so we're trying to make it as Boston as possible, so we'll be finishing at Staci's house and we are going to rename her street Boylston Street for the day," said Stephanie.

If you're interested in supporting the Best Life Ever Foundation, go to https://bleflagstaff.org or https://www.gofundme.com/f/238842ilhc.