On an unusually warm February day in Hopkinton, Dr. Jeffrey Hopkins blesses the weather as he laces up his neon green running shoes to once again trek through a mixture of snow, salt, mud, and ice. To his right is the iconic starting line of the Boston Marathon, where Hopkins will return in April to run the 126th iteration on behalf of the Milford Regional Healthcare Foundation.
“We’ve had a rough couple years here at the hospital with the pandemic,” says Hopkins. “Every day we come to work and see people basically running a marathon of their own. Seems like it’s never-ending and there’s never going to be that finish line with COVID.”
Hopkins, who is the chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine and a former member of the MRMC Board of Trustees, is running with the goal of raising funds to support crucial areas of the hospital.
“I was inspired to run by the staff who I work with on a day-to-day basis. Just seeing their endurance, perseverance, and commitment, from the registrars, to security, to environmental services, to the nurses and the physicians, it’s been inspiring to see everyone come together to battle COVID over the past two years,” he says.
“I guess I’m a glutton for punishment because I figured to show support for the Milford team, what better way than to do something that required a lot of endurance and commitment? It’s going to be really challenging, but hopefully, we’ll bring some good to the hospital and return much-needed funds and attention to the front-line providers who have been running a marathon of their own for the past couple of years.”
The warmth of the morning was in stark contrast to the usual winter running conditions. Hopkins says the mounds of snow, the sleek ice and cold weather make the outdoor terrain less-than ideal, noting that many of the patients in the Emergency Department waiting room following a recent snowstorm were in for slip-and-falls. Because of this, he makes good use of his treadmill, which he calls “painful,” but necessary for training.
“I think it’s just setting a goal and reaching a goal,” he says. “The motivation behind running a marathon is to challenge yourself and see if you can accomplish a goal you put out there. Twenty-six miles seems crazy, but we have another physician at the hospital who has completed a 100-mile race. Everyone has their own goals and things that motivate them.”
Hopkins is no stranger to the challenge a marathon brings. The upcoming Boston Marathon, which he last ran in 2018, will be his 16th one to date, and it’s an accomplishment with highs that soar far above the lows.
“I can tell you from prior marathons, the feeling of crossing that finish line is something that you don’t experience with any other thing that you do,” he says. “It’s just a once-in-a-lifetime combination of exhaustion and elation – those last five miles of the marathon you’re saying to yourself, ‘I am never doing this again,’” he says, followed by a laugh.
“And then once you finish the marathon you just feel this wave of accomplishment, having completed something that you didn’t think you were able to do. You forget about the last five miles and then you decide to do another one. It’s kind of like having kids.”
If you want to make a donation towards Hopkins’ race, you can visit this page or call 508-422-2228.