, Salem, MA

May 11, 2013

Teacher going the distance

Salem charter school track team helps marathoner finish race

By Bethany Bray

---- — SALEM — On April 15, Allison Rickenbach was halted at mile 25.8 of the Boston Marathon, just four-tenths of a mile before crossing the finish line.

Yesterday, she “finished” her marathon by running a lap around the Salem Common with 25 of her students from the Salem Academy Charter School. Afterward, they placed her Boston Marathon medal around her neck and gave her a group hug.

“This means a lot,” Rickenbach said after the run. “There’s a bigger lesson here. It’s about supporting each other. Stuff like this really goes a long way.”

The 2013 Boston Marathon came to an abrupt halt after two explosions went off near the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 200.

Yesterday’s run was organized by the charter school track team as a way to support a much-loved teacher, said William Camp, track coach and seventh-grade history teacher.

“We knew she didn’t feel closure — she had been training for the whole year and wasn’t able to cross the finish line,” Camp said.

“The least we could do is run a lap for her,” said 10th-grader Adesuwa Eghe.

“It meant a lot to us to be able to finish with her,” agreed seventh-grader Leanne Navarro.

The charter school is close-knit, and empathy is part of the school’s mission, said eighth-grader Aidan Lane.

Rickenbach, a Danvers resident, teaches seventh-grade science at the Congress Street school. Many of the students were tracking her online check-ins on marathon day, and had a lot of questions for her when she returned to school, Rickenbach said.

“I still have days where I’m struggling (over the marathon), but I think we all are,” she said.

Last month, Rickenbach was running her first Boston Marathon for a charity called For Jake’s Sake. She’ll run the Burlington Marathon, which made slots available to Boston Marathon runners, on May 26 with her husband, Brett.

“I feel fortunate to be here,” Rickenbach said to the students after the run. “One thing that’s been hard is not having the closure of crossing the finish line and reaching my goal. This meant a lot to me.”

Bethany Bray can be reached at and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.