WATERTOWN, Mass. (A.W.)—For runners across the globe, securing a spot in the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon, is a prestigious distinction. Just 30,000 participants make the cut, 80 percent of whom must beat an age-based qualifying time in another marathon to even have a chance. Each year, the event attracts 500,000 spectators.
The 2018 Boston Marathon is slated for April 16, marking the race’s 122nd occasion. In 2017, runners from every U.S. state were represented, along with 99 countries—Armenia was not one of them. But this year, for the first time in the its history, Armenia will be officially represented.
Fountain is originally from the New York City area and moved to Yerevan in the summer of 2017 shortly after completing a volunteer internship with the Birthright Armenia program. In Armenia, she began her training as a professional runner and that same year, won second place in the Yerevan Half Marathon and Tbilisi Half Marathon, both of which had drawn strong competition from Russia and Ukraine. While her nearest challenge is the Boston Marathon, she says her ultimate goal is to bring the country to the 2020 Olympic Marathon (yet another first, as Armenia has never had a runner compete).
Fountain is supported by TriClub Yerevan, Armenia’s leading team for endurance sports, and trains under certified coach Vahagn Toukharian, a marathon and Ironman competitor. According to a personal statement, Fountain has found Armenia to be the ideal environment in which to develop her burgeoning career in running because, among other things, it has given her the opportunity to train at high altitudes, like for example the Tsakhadzor sports complex, which boasts some of the country’s greatest athletes. Recently, she trained at 2000 meters in the mountains of Jermuk.
Referencing Armenia’s exercise culture, Fountain says she is humbled by the idea that her career might inspire a new generation of women and girls to pursue a more active lifestyle in Armenia. “A lot of people asked what I want to contribute to Armenia when I moved here,” says Fountain, “and I never knew how to answer. Running is the most empowering tool I have in life… I am so proud to be a part of this growing movement toward a healthy lifestyle in Armenia”
Fountain says her participation in the Marathon is a part of a larger attempt to bring Armenia to the 2020 Olympics, and has plans to participate in more of the world’s top marathons. In addition to the Boston Marathon, she is slated to run in Chicago later this year.