WORCESTER – Over the weekend, a cute story became one of the week's most talked-about pieces from The Boston Globe. They reported that a Shrewsbury woman ended up running a solo half-marathon in Worcester after an unfortunate set of circumstances. Almost immediately, the story went viral and it has since been picked up by such outlets as NPR. This is partly because it is so relatable – any of us could have made the same mistake – but also because it is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
Annually, the Worcester Running Festival takes central Massachusetts by storm thanks to a series of races that allow for runners of all experience levels to compete on the streets of the second-largest city in the state. There is a youth 1K, a standard 5K run, and there is a half marathon.
However, this annual tradition came to an abrupt halt last year when National Grid revoked its sponsorship of the half marathon. There has yet to be an official word on if the half marathon will return in 2019 with a new sponsorship, but this information was not known to Sheila Pereira.
Pereira probably remembered hearing something about Worcester's half marathon tradition, so she took to the Internet to register for it. Only, without a half marathon to select from, she inadvertently registered for September 15's Worcester City Half Marathon. When the date rolled around, she realized that this half marathon was actually taking place in Worcester, England and not Worcester, Massachusetts.
If I was the one who made this blunder, I would have taken it as a sign that I didn't need to run and I would have taken the break. But not Sheila Pereira.
She decided to run the 13.1 in New England anyway, on her own, without the crowds of supporters and co-runners, and she accomplished the feat in just 125 minutes. Sending her results to the half marathon in England, they awarded her a medal, a participant t-shirt, and the incentive to come visit for real next year to attempt the half marathon in the original Worcester.