PORTLAND, Maine — Jason Kroot was never a runner until his father was diagnosed with cancer. He was living in Boston at the time but moved back home to Maine to take care of his dad, and during his free time, he started running.
He got involved with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to raise money for the disease that eventually claimed his parents' lives.
"Running the Boston Marathon, the only way to compare it is I've never played in the Super Bowl, but it's like running in the Super Bowl," Kroot said.
In 2012, Kroot ran his first Boston Marathon for his dad Brian. Cancer had already claimed the life of his mom, Deb.
"[When] I finished in April 2012 I thought I was a one-and-done marathoner," Kroot asid. "Two months later his [father's] cancer relapsed and he lost his life."
Kroot trained again to run in 2013 in his father's honor. He crossed the finish line before the terror attack that killed three people and injured hundreds more.
So he kept running after that, thinking his fifth marathon would be his last. Then he met his wife, Danielle.
"She was a runner on the Dana Farber marathon team as well so we met through training on our team," he said. "And after we completed our first together we continued dating and had to sign up again."
Then six became 10, but year 10 was affected by the pandemic and held in September instead of the usual April race.
So he decided to run his 11th and final Boston Marathon this year.
Over more than a decade, Kroot raised about $100,000 for cancer research.
He says he owes everything to his donors.
"They've allowed me to go on this journey," he said. "They've really empowered me to be able to run this race because without their donations I wouldn't be able to continue to run year after year."
For Kroot. the Boston Marathon is more than a race.
"Running the race has undoubtedly changed my life and it's kind of how I went through a tragedy, grieved the loss of my dad, and kind of moved forward and has formed my life," he said. "I met my wife on the team. We now own a running business, a running studio, and it's really kind of taken me from the lowest point of my life to where I am today."
Kroot will not only be running the Boston Marathon on Monday, but also the Big Sur Marathon the following Sunday in California as part of the Boston to Big Sur challenge.