Rockford Grad, Michigan’s youngest qualifier in Boston Marathon

Adam Quinn sprinting to Boston Marathon finish line


Grand Rapids Community College freshman Adam Quinn crossed the Boston Marathon finish line April 17, as the youngest qualifier from Michigan. He might have also been the only marathoner talking on a cell phone while he was running the hardest part of race.

The Rockford (Michigan) High School graduate was one of the first runners to kick off the 121st Boston Marathon in Hopkinton early Monday morning. The field of over 30,000 qualifiers included six Boston Marathon champions along with Olympic and IAAF World champions.

Adam Quinn savoring his finish

The beautiful race day was great for spectators but the unusual warmth was tough for the participants. Nearly 3000 runners did not start and over 800 runners dropped out during the run with many needing wheelchairs and medical assistance. Adam had just recovered from the stomach flu, but persevered through the heat and ran unguided through the course. For completing the greatest marathon in the world, Adam earned prized blisters, a treasured medal and immense satisfaction.

Adam has been a distance runner for over seven years, and started marathon training last summer when college dreams seemed to be out of reach without a high school diploma, GPA or ACT scores. He turned his focus to qualifying for the Boston Marathon while he contemplated alternatives to four year residential colleges. His brother, Alex, went to Harvard and Adam set his sights on getting to the Boston area too, in his own way. When we discussed the idea of running the marathon as a way to get to Boston, Adam immediately jumped on board and adopted an extensive training plan.

Adam’s perseverance paid off in many ways – leading to admission to GRCC in the fall of 2016, acing both freshman semesters, running with the Cross Country team and completing the 2017 Boston Marathon. His family was there to cheer him on while fans from afar were showing support from home, work and school.

Adam runs, works and studies very hard. He tackles tough homework with patience, classmates take notes for him and a scribe patiently reads the tests and writes down his answers. Adam volunteers at the Wolverine Worldwide Y and the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. He puts in up to 60 miles/week, and has been Marathon training twice over the last ten months from hot humid summer days to subzero snowy days. Adam has built great endurance capability, and friends have joined in to help Adam increase his pacing skills.

Running and music have been a great equalizer for Adam, helping him develop stronger relationships with his more able bodied peers. Many of his closest friends run, sing or enjoy sports and music in general. He has been on championship teams with runners who have gone on to state, national and world completions. He has been with talented artists who have achieved high recognition for their singing and broadway quality musical shows. This has inspired Adam to push the envelope in all his endeavors. He strives for his personal best and feels confident to express himself in his own unique way. Adam is gaining increasing independence and just finds alternative paths towards the same type of aspirations as his peers.

Everyone has to qualify for Boston Marathon and Adam beat the IPC standards, as one of the five fastest in the autism spectrum who made the cut.

He ran his qualifying time in the Last Chance BQ.2 GR Marathon last Sept 10. This was another tough race with warm humid conditions resulting in over 25% drop out during the run and the number of Boston Qualifiers were less than half the historical average.

Adam has enjoyed skydiving,“co-piloting” a small plane, swim team, track, cross country, band, choir, scuba diving, downhill racing, snow and water tubing, dances, concerts and even a reign as homecoming king. He thrives on laughter, living life to the fullest and making others happy in his Rockford, Michigan community, which has been so inclusive throughout his journeys.