SAN ANTONIO – For Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD educator Manny Olivo, his dream of running in the Boston Marathon is 30-plus years in the making.
This year, he’ll finally be able to approach that finish line.
Olivo, a special education job coach for SCUCISD and lifelong runner, was one of two teachers in the nation to be selected in the Team TCS Teachers initiative to run the Boston Marathon — the most prestigious race in the world.
He joined the program, which provides leadership and educational resources for teachers, in 2019 when he applied to run for them in the New York City Marathon.
At that time, he was one of 50 teachers across the U.S. to be selected to run with Team TCS Teachers in the Big Apple. He ran it in 2021 since 2020′s race was postponed due to COVID-19.
“It’s a really great program, I’m just fortunate to still be a part of it,” he said. “They somehow got two bibs for the Boston Marathon, and they did the contest again” for 2023.
He once again entered the contest, this time for the Boston Marathon. In his application, he spoke about why he wanted to run the race.
His story goes back to 1992.
That year, he had just graduated from Judson High School and actually had a qualifying time to apply for Boston, he said. For Boston and the five other World Marathon Majors, runners have to qualify with a quick pace in order to enter, or they can test their chances via a lottery or raise money for charity.
He had the pace, just not the resources.
“I didn’t have the money for it. I couldn’t afford to pay for the entry fee. I couldn’t afford airfare, couldn’t afford a hotel. I was a young, you know, 19-year-old coming out of high school,” Olivo said.
Over the years, Olivo let his passion flourish. He’s completed everything from 5Ks to ultramarathons around the world, but the goal of Boston lingered.
Now at 51 years old, Olivo thought he wouldn’t be able to “get that fast” to qualify for Boston again, as his younger self did.
It’s “a lot of hard work,” he chuckled.
But in a recent video conference, Olivo said organizers with Team TCS Teachers gave him the news that he had waited for, for so long.
He was finally going to run the Boston Marathon, and with a free entry too.
“I was just flabbergasted and excited about it. I just had chills. And it was just a dream because I’ve always thought about it,” he said. “You know, I had to pinch myself. I had chills all over my body when I was notified that, you know, they’re allowing me to do this.”
Only one other educator in the U.S. was selected to run for Team TCS Teachers in the Boston Marathon.
After Olivo runs in Boston on April 17, he plans to run Badwater 135 — another race with a competitive entry process.
Known as the “world’s toughest foot race,” Badwater 135 only takes 100 runners a year. It’s a 135-mile race through Death Valley from July 4-6, when temperatures surpass 120 degrees.
“I guess we’re crazy,” he said, adding that he had to submit a running resumé and write an essay to be considered.
He also plans on running the Berlin Marathon in September. Now, all he needs are the London and Chicago marathons to reach his goal of running all the majors.
He runs with the support of his students at every stride.
As a job coach for the district, he works with students with disabilities and helps them transition from high school to adulthood.
They teach students life skills, like learning how to interview, cook with a microwave, clean or bag groceries.
The post-race medals and buckles are material items; it’s the support from his students that keeps him running, he said.
“They obviously hug me and give me a fist pump, you know? So they’re always excited,” he said. “I do it for my students.”