Subscribe Now

Not all of us can, or even want to run 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. As many Boston Marathon runners will contest, hitting and surpassing that 20-mile mark can be a real doozy. For those runners involved with any of the 24 official charities, however, finishing isn’t just a goal, it’s a necessity.

Enter: the Hunger Strikers. This group of 20-27 runners hail mainly from North Shore towns like Andover, Beverly, Methuen, Newburyport, and North Andover and run on behalf of Lazarus House, a Lawrence-based ministry that provides hot meals, shelter, job training, child care, food, clothing, outreach, and advocacy to those in need. In 2008, the Hunger Strikers raised an impressive $130,000 in support of this charitable organization.

Established in 2007, the team is managed by longtime runner Susan Hurley and coached by Bill Pennington. In addition to their tremendous fundraising efforts, the Hunger Strikers are also proud to report a 100% success rate with respect to marathon completion. This year, the Hunger Strikers are raising money to benefit Lazarus House’s newly-purchased food pantry. In light of the weak economy, the group

has opted to strive for a more conservative goal of $80,000, realizing that more modest contributions are likely. Despite these challenges, Hurley says, “Sure, we have to cut back, but those who didn’t have anything to begin with, and are in need of food and shelter, are suffering even more.”

Running the Boston Marathon is a feat in and of itself, but for the Hunger Strikers, the reward is even greater knowing that they have crossed the finish line, not only for themselves, but for the many families and elderly that rely so heavily on Lazarus House. It is this sense of giving and accomplishment that has allowed the Hunger Strikers to retain the majority of their runners from the 2008 race which, according to Hurley, is a success few other charity teams can report.

After this year’s race, their three-year term as an official Boston Marathon charity will comes to a close but the Hunger Strikers hope to continue their fundraising efforts for Lazarus House through other races and become an established running club. -Beth Daigle