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From Bay Port High School to the Boston Marathon

Du Bois
Du Bois is all smiles after crossing the finish line. Submitted photo

Paige Du Bois has gone from a sprinter to a marathoner

By Rich Palzewic

Contributing Writer

MARQUETTE, MICH. – Paige Du Bois, a 2016 Bay Port High School graduate, had a stellar career in a Pirates’ track and field uniform.

She is still the current record holder in the 400-meter dash (58.6) at Bay Port and a four-time track and field letter winner.

She also qualified for the WIAA state track meet all four years.

She also lettered in cross country and basketball during her time at Bay Port.

But now, she has transitioned to a long-distance runner.

After high school

After running two years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Du Bois transferred to Northern Michigan University on the shores of Lake Superior in Marquette.

“I ran both cross country and track at Northern,” she said. “I was always in that top seven for cross country — I’d say I put up a good fight at cross country, but my love was always on the track in the 400 and 800-meter runs. Because I ran cross country, that also fueled my love for long distance.”

While running for the Wildcats, Du Bois began working at Queen City Running Company in 2019.

“With my job and falling in love with the community, Marquette feels like home,” Du Bois said. “There’s so much to do in the outdoors — biking, hiking, running. I’m the operations manager at Queen City. We have a second location in Houghton, so I oversee operations at both stores, managing the events, etc. I’ll be buying into the company probably this summer. It’ll be five years this May I’ve been working here.”

After college

With no 400 or 800 events to run anymore after college, Du Bois said “I was kind of forced into doing longer-distance events.”

“There was some fear after college — you play the comparison game to what you used to be able to do, so I steered clear of those 5k events,” she said. “My first marathon was a pacing event, but before that, I did an ultra-marathon. I went from running 400s and 800s in college to doing a 32-mile race — that was so not me. Obviously, I ran on my own after college, but it was only a few miles here and there.”

From there, Du Bois said she springboarded into marathons in 2021.

A move to further distance

Intending to qualify for the Boston Marathon, Du Bois said she reached that goal almost by mistake.

“The first marathon I did on my own was the Twin Cities Marathon (in October of 2022),” she said. “I was supposed to pace an event that weekend, but three weeks before (it was scheduled), it got canceled. I went to Twin Cities on a whim and had no idea what I was getting into. I knew the qualifying times for the Boston Marathon.”

Du Bois said she started Twin Cities conservatively.

“As the race went on, I started feeling good and told myself to be patient,” she said. “It’s a lot more time than doing a 400, but I ended up doing it in 3:20. The time cutoff for Boston (in my age group) was 3:30 — I was happy with my effort. Because the race was in the fall, I missed the cutoff to do Boston in 2023, so my time at Twin Cities qualified me for 2024.”

Just because you qualify for Boston, doesn’t mean you gain entrance into the race.

“I could get into Boston with my time, but you need a good buffer,” Du Bois said. “There’s so many people who qualify, but there’s not enough spots to get in. I believe the year I qualified, I had about a four-minute and 30-second buffer (with my time).”

Paige Du Bois (No.14295)
Paige Du Bois (No.14295), a 2016 Bay Port graduate, completed the 2024 Boston Marathon in a time of 3:28. Submitted photo

Between Twin Cities and Boston, Du Bois paced a marathon in California in January of 2023.

“I love pacing — it’s a breath of fresh air for me,” she said. “It helps me keep a nice balance with my running. I don’t need to be the fastest out there. In college, I was so competitive, so pacing gives you a chance to slow down and take it all in — and help other runners achieve their goals.”

After the California pacing event, Du Bois did some half marathons in the spring of 2023 and then completed the Chicago Marathon in October later that year — in a time of 3:07.

“I was really happy with that race, and now that qualified me for a spot in Boston in 2025,” she said.

The road to Boston

Du Bois said signing up for her first Boston Marathon took place in the fall of 2023 — a nervous time for her.

“You think of the races that got you to that point, and it’s exciting,” she said. “I did a jump for joy when I got the confirmation I was in. The build-up to the race is exciting, too. It’s a continuous build for six months.”

Race day

With 30,000 runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators, Du Bois said, “I soaked it all in.”

“I put in the miles training to complete the marathon, but I didn’t necessarily want to race it (competitively),” she said. “I wanted to enjoy the experience. I enjoyed all the events leading up to race day.”

At the start line, Du Bois said she thought about all she went through to get to that point.

“Boston means so much to so many people,” she said. “It’s a tradition for so many people — as long as they qualify, they do it. It’s a huge celebration of running. People say training for a marathon is like a second job. Starting as a basketball player at Bay Port, then working up to a sprinter in track, I did a lot of self-reflection at the start line — I was about to run the Boston Marathon. It was an emotional experience.”

Du Bois said the Boston course is never exempt from fans cheering.

“Nobody needs (to listen to) music on this course,” she laughed. “When you take a right on Hereford and a left on Boylston and then take the first right, you can see everyone looking around — the finish is near. I finished in 3:28.”

Du Bois said Boston “is a rigorous course.”

“The first half is downhill, but for me, it affected my quads a bit,” she said. “During miles 15-18, there is something called the ‘Newton Hills’ — those were tough and long. Then there is ‘Heartbreak Hill’ at mile 21. That’s where many fans are. When you get to the top, there is a sign that says, ‘Congratulations, you just conquered Heartbreak Hill.’”

Du Bois said after Heartbreak Hill, it’s all downhill to the finish.

“I had a few quad issues, had a foot cramp, my stomach gave me some grief and it was hot,” she said. “There were probably 10 miles where I thought maybe I’d have to run/walk, but I made it. All the pains I had went away after Heartbreak Hill — I felt like Forest Gump when he came out of his leg braces.”

Looking back

On April 15, 2013, the Boston Marathon experienced a domestic terrorist attack near the finish line — killing three people and injuring hundreds, including 17 who lost limbs.

“I did think about that,” Du Bois said. “I went to watch a professional mile event taking place in the days leading up to the marathon, and I saw a memorial of where one of the bombings took place. I stumbled upon the memorial — it was a time for reflection.”

Du Bois said she will continue to run this year and get ready for Boston 2025.

“I’m directing quite a few races this year,” she said. “I’d like to break three hours in a marathon, but this summer, I’ll be enjoying my time in the U.P. running. I have things pretty much mapped out until October of 2025.”

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