European history teacher takes on Boston Marathon

Third-time competitor brings home new stories to tell


Kaia Myers

History teacher Jeffrey Cohen trains at the St. Louis Park High School track after racing the Boston Marathon April 16. He ran a time of 3:21:44.

Maddie Schutte

With 40 degree weather and a 25 mph wind facing the runners in the 2018 Boston Marathon, St. Louis Park High School teacher Jeff Cohen said this marathon continues to be his most rewarding race.

Cohen said he qualified for the Boston Marathon for a third time with a 3 hour 13 minute time in an Idaho marathon. His training consisted of a disciplined layout over the course of a few months in order to prepare for one of the most prestigious races in the world.

“My typical training would be a four month plan, and it just includes three basic elements of long distance running,” Cohen said. “Long runs on the weekend — what they call tempo runs where you run a little faster than what is comfortable for a typical runner — and then another element is what I usually do up here at the SLP track is speedwork — intervals where I do real fast training around the track.”

Junior Amelia Ryan said she enjoyed having a teacher with experiences like the Boston Marathon because his training showed his dedication and passion.

“It really shows how hard he works. After school during the fall he would run on the track while I played tennis. We would go out and we would do our conditioning out on the track and you’d see Mr. Cohen running laps for at least an hour, maybe more,” Ryan said. “It’s just really inspiring how hard he works.”

According to Cohen, he ran the marathon twice before the Boston Marathon Bombing of 2013, making this his first time back since the incident. A drastic increase in security throughout the race was significant for runners, and something Cohen had yet to experience in a marathon.

“They wouldn’t let you gear check bags, which I’ve never experienced before. It made it a little bit [different], especially with the weather — you couldn’t bring extra clothes,” Cohen said. “There was a huge amount of police and security at the start of the race in Hopkinton, and there was a SWAT team up on buildings watching over us. The barricades were much more significant. You could definitely tell a difference.”

Sophomore Zoe Younger said she has enjoyed hearing about his marathon running and his stories derived from it because they share a love for running.

“He’s really into marathons so he makes it very interesting to hear about. And I’m in cross country so it’s interesting to hear about his determination,” Younger said. “It’s very inspiring because it takes a lot of determination to run a race that long.”

According to Cohen, with his marathon running playing a big role in his life, he incorporates it into his teaching as well.

“I talk about the AP Test in my European History course. Preparing for that test at the end of the year — it’s an intellectual version of marathon training.” Cohen said. “You have to pace yourself, you have to constantly remember your goal, and it requires many months of discipline and preparation for a goal that takes place over a few hours in one day. There’s actually a lot of similarities.”

Cohen said although a four month training plan can be rigorous, finally making it to the Boston Marathon is rewarding in the end.

“I kiss the finish line everytime I finish, only in Boston, because it is so respected and so legendary. It’s an honor to be there. Any chance I have to run it, I try to do it. As far as marathon running goes, it keeps me sane,” Cohen said.