Danica Patrick spent her professional racing career behind the wheel of a car. She retired from auto racing in 2018, but this week, she took off running again -- literally, though.
Patrick completed the 125th Boston Marathon on Oct. 11, and it's only fitting that a former racecar driver ends up on a team called "The Speed of Light."
As part of the Light Foundation's team, founded by former Patriot Matt Light, Patrick was on of a team of runners, raising money for the cause. The race was Patrick's first marathon, and she finished alongside her sister, Brooke, at 4:01:21 with an average pace of 9:13 per mile.
"We Patricks can do hard things," she told WBZ’s Steve Burton at the finish line. "[Brooke] gave birth without any drugs. I drove 200 miles an hour. That's just how we're built."
For Patrick, an IndyCar Series race winner, training to run a marathon totally flipped the script. She told WBZ that for racing, the upper body is most important in terms of strength.
"I don't need my legs much in a car," she said.
With former Patriot James Develin also taking on the challenge of a marathon this year, Light said it is motivating to see athletes shift gears, no pun intended, and train for something entirely out of their comfort zone.
"I think every competitive person who has had an opportunity to play at the college level or professionally, someone like Danica who has had to deal with a lot of adversity, you're always looking for a challenge," Light said. "Even in a sport that you spent your lifetime in, you're always looking for a way to push yourself to take it to another level to learn something new to incorporate. It's fun to see kind of how an athlete from a different sport approaches something like the marathon being such a different sport."
Running a marathon was something on Patrick's bucket list, and through a friend of a friend, she found the Light Foundation, which Light and his wife, Susie, started to help young people develop life skills and values to build a meaningful future. Through scholarships, a leadership academy and other programs, the Light Foundation is investing in the next generation.
The foundation is a huge part of Light's own life in retirement, and to see runners every year wearing its logo is meaningful. To see Patrick representing his organization on Marathon Monday was special to see how much the foundation has grown.
"We've built the Light foundation on a network of really good people. When you team up with people like that, it helps. It helps in every way. It brings awareness," Light said. "We've reached a lot of the football fans so to speak over the years, but we really haven't been able to speak to a broader audience. Anytime you have a chance to tell your story through the eyes of someone else who is already recognized as being not just really good at what they do, but a great person, I mean that goes a long way in helping get the word out about who you are and what you do."
While running is an individual sport, for those running the marathon on fundraising teams, they are, well, a team. They meet. Sometimes train together. They have each other to lean on as competitors and motivators.
Light said, of course, having a former professional athlete like Patrick on the team brought a little something extra this year. On virtual team meetings, Patrick shared about her career and her journey with her fellow teammates.
"I think it did a lot for the team," Light said. "Everyone supported everyone, but she brought a little something extra to it. It does go a long way. She made it a lot of fun."