How Olympian Alexi Pappas Guided Visually Impaired Runner Lisa Thompson to Her Own Boston Victory | Live QnA Highlights

Fresh from her remarkable experience at the Boston Marathon, where she served as a guide for a visually impaired athlete, Alexi Pappas joined us to share her experience. She talked about the endeavor that transcended the typical marathon experience as a physical challenge and a deeply emotional journey. This year, Alexi helped her visually impaired runner Lisa Thompson reclaim victory in the visually impaired category, overcoming the intense competition and personal physical challenges.

Written by the SFM Marketing Team & Pavlína Marek
Edited by Pavlína Marek


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A post shared by Alexi Pappas (@alexipappas)

This year, we miraculously just kind of hung in there and found our stasis,” Alexi said about her and Lisa’s experience at the 2024 Boston Marathon. “We were hurting, we were nearly walking, it was hot, [and] we were not feeling like hot girls,” wrote Alexi in her post-race Instagram post. “When we came upon the first place girl at the onset of Heartbreak Hill, we knew it was a moment to ask ourselves, what are we made of? Are we athletes? I can tell you, Lisa, Lisa is an athlete.”

Their perseverance paid off when they surpassed the lead runner on Heartbreak Hill.

“Then Lisa found another gear, and she won the race,” Alexi beamed with pride, sharing in her partner’s triumphant moment. This story highlighted Alexi’s philosophy that marathons are as much about the bonds you form as they are about the physical race.

In addition to her racing endeavors, Alexi has been promoting her book, Bravey, where she shares her journey of chasing dreams and befriending pain. She’s also launched a podcast, Mentor Buffet, featuring conversations with influential figures across various fields, emphasizing the impact of mentorship and inspiration.

Alexi’s Guiding Experience

“Guiding is not a neutral role,” Alexi said about the task. “Something that I found is, you’re either gonna not help the person, you’re gonna hurt them, or you’re gonna really help them because you’re so intimate.”

Alexi has guided Lisa during the Boston Marathon before. The first time they ran together, Lisa won the blind division. Last year, another visually impaired athlete claimed the victory. At the 2024 Boston Marathon, Lisa expected to come in second again… only to surpass her own expectations and get the gold even with a nerve pain that accompanied her the whole race.

Alexi Pappas’ Guide to Running

During the livestreams, the San Francisco Marathon runners were eager to engage with Alexi, asking thoughtful questions that brought out detailed and practical responses.

Anthony Locks expressed excitement about seeing Alexi in July and said running with her would be an honor. She warmly acknowledged the sentiment, reflecting the mutual excitement for the upcoming race.

Q: Heather: What are your biggest tips for overcoming low moments during an ultra?

Alexi’s Answer: Alexi recommended focusing on moving forward, breaking down tough moments into manageable segments, and maintaining a positive focus.

Tom: Expressed concerns about tackling his first marathon, especially the hills.

Alexi’s Answer: Encouraging a positive mindset, Alexi suggested breaking the race into smaller sections and mentally preparing for the physical challenge.

Q: Shreesha Harvey: Can you give some nutrition tips for first-time marathon runners?

Alexi’s Answer: Emphasizing the importance of early and consistent fueling, Alexi recommended alternating between electrolyte drinks and water every 5K and using carbohydrates like gels or gummies, especially on longer races.

Q: Alexa: What is the best thing I can invest in for running a marathon—vest, sunglasses, specific socks?

Alexi’s Answer: Stressing the importance of comfort and protection, Alexi highlighted sunglasses to prevent squinting and the right socks to prevent blisters. She advised trying out all gear well before race day.

Why the Alexi Pappas 10K?

Alexi has deep roots in San Francisco. She shared her love for our beautiful city in her excitement for the San Francisco Marathon 10K, designed to be both challenging and fun. “It’s a perfect blend of a serious athletic challenge paired with the community spirit of a festive event,” she explained. The race not only showcases the scenic waterfront but also promotes a festive atmosphere, embodying the spirit of San Francisco.

“The marathon is for people who really wanna engage with the whole loop of the city experience with the hills, with that sunrise over the bridge,” Alexi said. “And I think the 10K is more like you’re enjoying some of those views from afar, but you’re gonna be getting it done a lot faster and I’ll be out there with you.”

The Alexi Pappas 10K T-Shirt

An exciting feature of this year’s race is the unique T-shirt designed by Alexi herself. She described it as whimsical, featuring a balloon animal seal, a nod to San Francisco’s iconic seals. “Everybody’s going to get something that was once in my brain,” she said, hoping the shirt inspires runners to feel capable and embrace a sense of humor during their race.

Join Us for More Than a Race

The San Francisco Marathon is about more than just running; it’s about creating memories, pushing limits, and enjoying a community of supportive and motivated individuals. With Alexi Pappas leading the charge at the Alexi Pappas 10K, this year’s event promises to be unforgettable.

Sign up now using Alexi’s code, embrace the challenge, and let’s make the 2024 San Francisco Marathon a landmark event. We can’t wait to see you at the starting line!

Run happy, run strong, and see you in San Francisco!

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