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Zdeno Chara completes Baystate Marathon, qualifies for Boston Marathon

Former Bruins captain returns to Lowell after 24 years

Zdeno Chara, the former captain of the Boston Bruins and a future Hockey Hall of Famer, made a triumphant return to Lowell on Sunday. He completed the 35th Baystate Marathon in 3 hours, 16 minutes and 26 seconds, qualifying him for the prestigious Boston Marathon.

Chara, who played 23 games for the Lowell Lock Monsters of the American Hockey League during the 1998-99 season, was greeted by cheers and applause from the fans and volunteers along the course. He thanked them for their support and congratulated all the runners who participated in the event.

“It was a great course,” Chara said. “Thanks to all the volunteers and the people who cheered us on the road. Congrats to all the runners.”

Baystate Marathon attracts 2,400 competitors

The Baystate Marathon, hosted by the Greater Lowell Road Runners, is known as one of the flattest and fastest-paced races in the country. The event registered 2,400 competitors between the marathon, half marathon and half marathon relay.

The marathon course started and ended outside the Tsongas Center, where Chara played minor league hockey nearly 25 years ago. The runners traversed through the streets of Lowell, Chelmsford and Tyngsboro, enjoying the scenic views of the Merrimack River and the historic mills.

Zdeno Chara completes Baystate Marathon, qualifies for Boston Marathon

The top male finisher was Cam Leonard of Newburyport, who crossed the finish line in 2:32:45. The top female finisher was Annie Heffernan of Boston, who took third place overall with an Olympic Trials-qualifying and Baystate women’s record time of 2:34:33.

Chara continues his passion for running

Chara, who is 46 years old and stands at 6-foot-9, has been an avid runner since his childhood in Slovakia. He has participated in several marathons and half marathons around the world, including New York, Chicago, Berlin and Vienna.

He said running helps him stay in shape and mentally focused, as well as giving him a chance to explore new places and meet new people.

“I love running,” Chara said. “It’s a great way to challenge yourself, to push your limits, to enjoy nature and to have fun.”

Chara is currently a free agent after playing last season with the Washington Capitals. He has not announced his retirement from hockey yet, but he said he is looking forward to running the Boston Marathon next year.

“I’m very excited,” Chara said. “It’s one of the most iconic races in the world. I’ve always wanted to run it. It’s a dream come true.”

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