, Newburyport, MA


February 17, 2014

Running siblings

Marathons, training strengthens bond for brother-sister duo

Okay, so maybe it’s not true that the family that runs together stays together. But running could make it closer.

That seems to be the case with John Peterson, a teacher at the Page School of West Newbury, and his sister, Newburyport Nock Middle School teacher Beth Dollas of Amesbury.

Three years ago, their brother David of Wakefield urged them to join him running the Chicago Marathon. Both Dollas and Peterson had been running shorter races and had talked about one day running a marathon, so they readily agreed.

And since then, Peterson and Dollas have become hooked on the marathon — as an unofficial team. They’ve gone to three other marathons together (San Francisco, Boston and the Marine Corps in Washington, D.C.) and they’re both currently training for this year’s Boston Marathon.

Between marathons, they’re often doing their long weekend runs together and either comparing notes on training or speculating on where to head for their next marathon.

What it means is that while many brothers and sisters tend to grow apart as they grow older and their interests diverge, the opposite is true for Dollas and Peterson.

“I think we’ve been pretty close all along nut this has definitely brought us together,” said Dollas who, at 37, is two years younger than Peterson. “There’s a real connection now. We’re always asking about each other’s training.”

After running Chicago, Peterson has only run one marathon without his sister, in Pittsburgh two years ago.

“It’s been a bonding experience for both of us,” said Peterson. “I feel closer to her now than I ever had.

“When we are training, those weekend long runs go by quickly when we are running together and it’s our chance to catch up with each other.

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