2024 Boston Marathon

'It Was Worth It.' High-Fivin' Emma Bates Soaked In The Boston Experience

'It Was Worth It.' High-Fivin' Emma Bates Soaked In The Boston Experience

Following up her fifth-place finish in 2023 after injury, Emma Bates ran her second Boston Marathon with a little more appreciation

Apr 16, 2024 by Cory Mull
'It Was Worth It.' High-Fivin' Emma Bates Soaked In The Boston Experience

BOSTON -- The award for most fun marathoner on Monday at the Boston Marathon? 

I don't think you could argue for anyone other than Emma Bates. 

The high-fivin', Modelo drinkin', No Context Track-makin' marathon star made the final turn on Boylston Street and became the top American women's finisher on Monday, stopping the clock in 2 hours, 27 minutes, 14 seconds. 

It was a follow-up to her fifth-place finish in 2023, a race wherein she led late and walked away with one of the best performances of her marathon career -- coupled with her runner-up finish in Chicago in 2021. 

But oh how this was different. 

That tends to happen when injury sidelines your expectations and places you in neutral, forcing you to miss action and reevaluate the sport. In February, Bates opted against competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials due to an injury that may have stemmed first from the Chicago Marathon in October, when she stepped on a pothole and tore tissue in her foot. 

The result of that decision was a big one: Bates missed out on the chance to qualify for the Olympic Marathon. 

She returned to Boston on Monday a little unsure, but excited by the opportunity to test herself once again. "I wasn't quite sure how I would be able to run today coming off injury and the recovery process," she said. "I was trying to test myself and go after it." 

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Bates remains one of the U.S.'s top marathoners, regardless of the Trials omission. Her marathon times have continually dropped over the last five years, from her first effort at the distance in 2019 to her best in 2023, when she ran 2:22:10 in Boston. 

She finished 12th on Monday, a performance that was bittersweet. 

"I'm proud of finishing," she said. "I'm proud of being at the start line. I'm proud of pushing myself and the efforts I put into it. Twelfth isn't quite what I would have expected or hoped for. But that's the name of the game." 

A year after leading the Boston Marathon, there were large stretches on Monday when she did the same. 

Through the 30K marker, Bates was in the lead. But so were a group of 15 women, a pace group that held through the 20 mile point. The group started to move away from each other over the last 10K before finally, Hellen Obiri dropped Sharon Lokedi and won the Boston Marathon title in 2:22:37.

From the 20-mile point to 21, Bates moved from first to 13th. Bates, however, fought through the final 10K, clocking a 17:53 5K from 35K to 40K and finishing with a 5:52 mile.

Somewhere during the marathon stretch in Wellesley, around miles 13 to 16 on Central Street, a noted area that features screaming fans, Bates made a detour. Making her way to the farthest fencing, she saw a cacophony of hands outstretched. 

Bates stuck out her hand, slapping one after the other, high-fiving up a storm. She fully soaked in the moment.


"I think it has to do with me not being able to make it to the Olympic Trials," Bates said of the decision to greet fans mid-race. "Being injured. Not being able to run months at a time. It makes you appreciate running so much more and makes you appreciate showing up at a starting line so much more." 

It may have only been a few seconds in reality, but to Bates, it almost felt like more. It felt so much like that, she said later, that she wondered if she was actually losing time. 

"As I started, I couldn't stop because everyone kept putting their hand out," she said. "'Did I just make a mistake. Am I losing seconds here?' But honestly, it was worth it, even if it was going to cost me a few seconds in time. It was amazing to have that experience with so many people.’’

Bates finished the marathon, claiming the top American finish for the second straight year. 

She wasn't done. 

She grabbed a Modelo, gave it a couple sips, then journeyed on. 

"My coach told me (beforehand), 'Go out and run your own race. Treat it like a long run,'" Bates said, "with a little more pizazz." 

Maybe Bates was outside her overall goal, which may have been a top 10 finish — maybe even another top five moment. 

But in many ways, in her first marathon after injury -- the first serious one of her career -- Bates did exactly what she envisioned.

She got after it. 

Boston Marathon Results

Results from the race can be found on the Boston Marathon website.

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