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At Boston Marathon, Philly nurse breaks record while wearing nursing scrubs

Samantha Roecker finished the course in 2 hours, 48 minutes and 2 seconds. She raised more than $43,000 to support health programs for those in her profession.

Penn nurse Sam Roecker ran the Boston Marathon in hospital scrubs, which she showed off earlier this month on the Schuylkill River Trail.
Penn nurse Sam Roecker ran the Boston Marathon in hospital scrubs, which she showed off earlier this month on the Schuylkill River Trail.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

Long pants, no problem.

Clad in blue hospital scrubs, Philadelphia nurse Samantha Roecker ran the Boston Marathon on Monday in an unofficial time of 2 hours, 48 minutes, and 2 seconds — the fastest marathon by a woman while wearing nursing attire.

Setting the record was not her primary goal. Roecker, 30, ran to raise funds and awareness for the mental health and well-being of others in her profession, prompted by hearing stories of burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consider that goal accomplished, too. As of midday Monday, she had raised $43,388, earmarked for the nonprofit American Nurses Foundation.

Roecker, an elite-level runner who goes by Sam, works 25 hours a week at a Penn Medicine ear, nose, and throat clinic, and up to 20 hours a week at the emergency department of Cooper University Hospital in Camden. A registered nurse, she also is studying at Penn to become a nurse practitioner.

Those demands cut into her training time, so she was not expecting to match her personal marathon record — just under 2½ hours, set in December 2020.

Yet she broke the nursing-attire record with ease. Her performance has yet to be certified by Guinness World Records, but it was more than 20 minutes faster than the old mark of 3:08:22, set by British nurse Jessica Anderson in 2019.

“I tried to have a mix of fun and getting the most out of myself,” Roecker said by phone Monday afternoon.

Guinness did not recognize Anderson’s record at first, telling her she had to wear a dress and cap. After an outcry, the organization changed course.

“It has become quite clear to Guinness World Records that our guidelines for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform were outdated, incorrect and reflected a stereotype we do not in any way wish to perpetuate,” the organization said then.

At Monday’s Boston Marathon, the top finisher among women was Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir, whose time was 2:21:01. First place for the men went to her countryman Evans Chebet, who finished in 2:06:51.

Roecker was not the only nurse in the field with Philly-area ties.

Kayla Lampe, a former emergency-room nurse at Bryn Mawr Hospital, finished in 2:38:38, the top woman from the Philadelphia Runner Track Club. Nick Cardamone was the top male finisher from the club, finishing in 2:30:18.

Among other Philly-area notables:

  1. Ross Martinson, owner of the Philadelphia Runner stores, who finished the course in 2:51:52.

  2. Gene Dykes, 74, of Bala Cynwyd, who finished in 3:12:38. (Dykes is the unofficial world record holder in the marathon for the 70-plus age group, having run the 26.2-mile distance in 2:54:23 in December 2018.)