By NICK BROCKMAN
FOR THE DAILY MAIL
An accomplished runner in her own right, Laura Casto earned her trip to Monday’s 118th Boston Marathon not by her fleet feet, but ability to tweet.
Casto, a Charleston resident and three-time marathon finisher, won her way into the heralded Boston field by winning a social media contest held by adidas Running.
“I actually won a Twitter contest,” the 29-year-old Casto said. “It’s hilarious, I know, because nobody really wins these things.”
On Feb. 28, @adidasrunning posed a question to its Twitter followers, “Want to run the Boston Marathon? Tell us why using #weallrunBoston & our free entry could be yours.”
“I just thought it was a neat question to answer, so I answered it,” Casto said.
Casto replied to adidas’ tweet with “@adidasrunning #weallrunBoston to honor the victims, families & the city Boston, & show the resilience & strength of the running community,” paying tribute to the victims, families and first-responders involved in last year’s Boston Marathon bombing tragedy.
“And, gosh, three or four days later — it was less than a week — I was actually running, and I rarely run with my phone or iPod, but I decided to that day, and it kept beeping, and I stopped to see what it was and I had a message from them saying that I won the free entry,” Casto said.
Luckily, for Casto and adidas, as an avid distance runner, Casto could do more than accept the entry, but hold her own against her speedy peers.
“I was actually planning on running a couple half marathons this spring, and I had actually just run Myrtle Beach two weeks before, so my long runs were up to about 14, 15 miles,” she said. “My training was condensed, but I was able to get in two 20-milers, so I think it worked out OK. I was in enough shape to get there.”
Because of her short-notice trip, Casto said she’s set her sights on a goal time, but she won’t be upset if she doesn’t hit the mark. Instead, she’s happy to be a part of the event.
“Boston is a really tough, really tough course, and I’m really excited just to have the experience,” she said. “I’m pretty competitive with myself, so I typically have a goal time.
“I’m honestly just incredibly excited just to be a part of it and get to run with 36,000 other runners and show our support for the city. I think it’s going to be pretty amazing.”
Casto, who has previously finished the Chicago Marathon and twice the Richmond (Va.) Marathon, said, like most talented distance runners, Boston has always been on her bucket list.
“I definitely wanted to qualify for Boston and that is still definitely in my plans,” she said. “I want to qualify one day, but it got moved up a little bit, by a couple years.”
For women ages 18 to 34, individuals must run a qualifying marathon time of three hours, 35 minutes (8:12/mile) or faster to enter the Boston Marathon field.
Reaching Boston marks a feat many runners strive to attain, but this year Casto said she thinks most runners will be focused on the celebration and significance of the event rather than finishing times.
“I think normally Boston would be like a running milestone, but just getting to be there and be a part of it is going to be probably the most amazing and emotional experience that I could ask for,” she said.
Casto added she’s looking forward to drawing support from the crowd that typically lines the entire route from its start in Hopkinton, Mass. to finish in downtown Boston.
“I’ve read where they’re expecting over a million spectators,” she said. “That’s pretty amazing. It gives you so much energy and it makes you just want to keep going, because you know that there’s people there.”
Thanks to Twitter and adidas, this year, Casto can count herself among those runners that fans will line the streets to cheer.
“I’ve never really heard of anyone just winning an entry like this,” she said. “I do know that some running companies can comp entries to people or comp entries to friends and things, but as far as winning an entry through a contest, through a Twitter contest, no, I’ve never heard of that.
“I love adidas. I love adidas stuff and probably become a little bit more of a fan. I’ll be running in mostly adidas stuff at Boston, obviously.”