Carlin runs in Boston for worthwhile cause

Courtesy of Carlin Long | Carlin Long ran the Boston Marathon this past Monday in honor of best friend, Cynthia Phillipson, who died in 2014 due to cardiac arrest. His fundraising efforts will go toward feeding children.

Isabella Abbott | Features Editor

April 20, 2023

The Boston Marathon is one of the world’s most prestigious road racing events, which can take many years and marathon completions to qualify for. But, for Duquesne graduate student Carlin Long this process was short.

Long qualified for the 127th Boston Marathon after his first Pittsburgh Marathon in May.

To qualify for the marathon in his 18-34 age group, he needed to get a time under three hours. His time for the Pittsburgh Marathon was two hours and 57 minutes, enough for an instant qualification.

Long didn’t run for exercise or for the times, but rather for a purpose — to raise funds for a charity in memory of his friend, Cynthia Phillipson, who died from cardiac arrest in 2014 at age 15.

“Boston is kind of a special race for a lot of people,” Long said. “Some go for personal goals, but in addition to that, they’re running for something there. So I thought that was the perfect kind of combination — to honor her legacy and her generous heart, and then at the same time run that race with everyone doing the same thing.”

Cynthia’s sister, Veronica Phillipson, said it’s amazing to see Long still helping Cynthia live on.

“Carlin and Cynthia were super close friends, and she always felt like she could be herself around him as a good friend and as a person,” Veronica said. “It is just amazing to see that he still wants to carry on her legacy, and it makes us remember that there’s people who are still thinking about her every day, even though she’s not physically here with us.”

Mary’s Meals is an international charity, whose mission is to provide the most effective help to those suffering the effects of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest communities. The organization works with communities in 18 different countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

What was an important mission for Phillipson is now a goal for Long.

“I’m honoring my best friend, Cynthia, and spreading awareness for Mary’s Meals and her kitchen to carry on her legacy in her memory,” Long said.

Cynthia’s mother, Carol Phillipson, said she’s grateful for the work Long has put into keeping her daughter’s legacy alive.

“It’s been quite some time now, and most people move on,” Carol said. “And obviously, for our family, it’s a day-to-day [thing]. There’s not a minute [or] a second that goes by that we don’t think about her.

“So, that a young man or a friend of hers would continue to honor her memory is extremely touching. We couldn’t be more appreciative. A lot of people move on, so it’s really special to see that he still continues to honor her memory.”

After raising money from the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon and Marathon, as well as money from Long and Cynthia’s junior and senior high schools, they were able to adopt a kitchen in Bomi, Liberia, named Cynthia’s Kitchen.

According to Mary’s Meals, the organization helps feed over two million children every school day, and Cynthia’s Kitchen is just one of their contributors.

Carol believes her daughter would be overjoyed about the effort and progress Long has made on the charity.

“I think she’s smiling down on him,” Carol said. “One of her quotes that she tweeted out was, ‘We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever. The goal is to create something that will,’ and she tweeted that out maybe six weeks before she passed away. We feel like this is her way of living on.

“She was all about joy and positivity, and that’s what Carlin’s helping to spread — more joy to these children.”

During the race, despite obtaining a stress fracture along the way, Long persevered and ended in three hours and 10 minutes.

“I was pretty strong ‘til mile 24, and then I ended up getting some cramps and a stress fracture in my shin,” Long said. “So I had to stop there for a little bit to get the cramps out, and then I was able to run the last mile, so I was happy about that.”

Like most of the runners that day, Long was thrilled to compete in the marathon.

“It was a really cool experience,” Long said. “There’s so many different elite runners out there, and everyone was around your same time, and the whole city was great, too.

“A ton of people in the city of Boston came out to support, and you really felt like the city was kind of pushing you through to the finish line along with the other runners. So, all in all, it was a great experience.”

“Every year, it’s a reminder that there’s something positive that came from something so tragic for us,” Veronica said. “There’s children being fed and educated because Carlin was motivated by losing his best friend, and that shines a positive light of silver lining on everything.”

Veronica said that Cynthia was “always a positive person” and that Carlin was always supportive of her no matter the circumstances. She thinks her sister would be proud of his efforts.

“Just to see that — that’s exactly what she would have wanted us to do, and we’re carrying it out.”