MAHWAH, N.J. — Joseph Singleton was 19 miles into the Boston Marathon when everything started to go.
It was 95 degrees that day in 2012 — uncomfortably high for mid-April — and the Mahwah native's body was rapidly shutting down.
The then-26-year-old was dehydrated. He was overheated. He was beginning to hit the proverbial wall. It was every distance runner's worst nightmare.
But Singleton, a Wyckoff Y trainer, had to finish the race -- if not for himself, then for all of his supporters.
"I can’t let these people down, " Singleton thought as he ran. “They came up to see me, they’ve taken time out of their day to watch me. I have to run this — I have to finish this.”
At that point it was more about respect than time, Singleton said.
Singleton is scheduled to compete again in the Chicago Marathon this October — his sixth — and will continue to race for the people who inspired him to start seven years ago -- his family.
Singleton began running alongside his father when he graduated from Centenary College for fun. Knowing little about running in 2009, he signed up to compete in his first marathon, the New York City Marathon.
He felt nervous the night before but upon arriving at the starting line in Staten Island, Singleton’s “competitive juices” took over. He locked in his pace and outran his competitors on the course, one by one.
Three hours and eight minutes later, he crossed the finish line. Knowing that the NYC Marathon wouldn't be his last, Singleton paired up with his now-coach Aidan Walsh of Racefaster in Ridgewood to help improve his training.
"[Walsh] brought my true running potential out of me," said Singleton, whose grandfather ran until he was 97 years old. "He has been coaching me for six years and I have grown and matured as a runner."
With several half-marathons on the horizon, Singleton has no intentions of stopping.
"Running is like the fountain of youth," Singleton said. "It showed me anything is possible."
Singleton will be racing in the NYC half-marathon on March 20, and the Long Branch half-marathon May 1.