Two local CPAs prepare for the Boston Marathon

Ioannis Pashakis//April 11, 2022

Two local CPAs prepare for the Boston Marathon

Ioannis Pashakis//April 11, 2022

Robin Alexander, senior manager of tax services at RKL’s Harrisburg office, and Michael Andrews, a tax manager at RKL’s York office, qualified last year to run in the 2022 Boston Marathon. PHOTO/PROVIDED

The 2022 tax season is nearing its end, meaning that accounting firms will begin to empty as staff earn a much-needed break from extended hours and crunch time leading up to Tax Day on April 18th.

For Robin Alexander and Michael Andrews, the last day of the lengthy tax season will offer no such break — instead, the two certified public accountants will be hitting foot to pavement for 26.2 miles in the Boston Marathon.

Both Andrews and Alexander work for Lancaster-based CPA accounting and business consulting firm, RKL — Alexander as a senior manager of tax services at the firm’s Harrisburg office and Andrews as a tax manager in York.

The two accountants are very familiar with the grueling work hours and high-stress environment of the season, which can result in 60-to-65-hour work weeks.

“My family knows when January hits that they won’t hear from me or see me as much,” said Alexander. “You eat breathe and sleep it. I pretty much usually eat three meals at my desk.”

“Because of the pandemic, we haven’t had a normal tax season in a few years,” said Andrews. “It’s like drinking from a fire hose. There is a lot coming at you.”

Despite the stressful season, the two runners decided to add training for the famous marathon to their schedules.

To be admitted into the marathon, runners must hit a qualifying time based on their age and gender in another outdoor marathon within a year of the Boston Marathon.

Qualifying for the event and having a chance to apply is an opportunity that was hard to ignore for Alexander and Andrews, even knowing that their training would directly come into odds with tax season.

Alexander has always been an athlete but took up running during the pandemic. The activity helped her get out of the house and proved to be a great stress reliever, said the CPA and runner.

She did her first half marathon in October 2020 and her first full marathon in 2021, in which she immediately qualified for the Boston Marathon.

“I was going to do one marathon just to prove I could do it. I qualified for Boston and said I have to do it,” she said. “It is a much easier decision when it is October or November, and you aren’t in the busy tax season.”

Andrews began running marathons in 2014, but had yet to meet a qualifying time, until joining a training group recommended to him by a client. In 2021 he joined the group, which helped him take 13 minutes off his time and qualify for Boston.

A long-time runner, Andrews said that he starts runs at 4:30 a.m. and is back home by 5:45 a.m.

“Once you are back, it’s a great way to start your day,” he said. “Runner’s high is real.”

Andrews took his role at RKL in November and qualified for Boston later that month. He said he was nervous about telling leadership a month into his new role that he would need the last weekend before the tax season deadline off.

“I didn’t know what the reaction would be. The deadline date is the day of the marathon and I planned to go on the Saturday before. It has been nothing but supportive,” said Andrews, adding that as a runner, the Boston Marathon is a difficult event to decline. “What if I get hurt or I never have a qualifying time again? It is probably something I won’t do every season, but if you get your first qualifying time, you have got to do it.”

Both Andrews and Alexander said that their company’s leadership has been particularly supportive of their training and the fact that they won’t be available on Tax Day. However, that doesn’t mean that adding training to the long workdays of the tax season has been easy.

For Alexander, that means an additional 10 hours a week of training on top of her 60 to 65 hours of work.

“My boyfriend knows he will see me if he runs with me,” she said. “We competed in a half marathon so he could see me. Either he sees me when I run or when I’m working.”

Andrews gets most of his training done early in the morning. He said he drinks a lot of coffee to get through the entire day.

The training has proven to be a challenging time commitment, but he said that it has had unforeseen benefits.

“I get to wake up with my daughter and have breakfast with her. When I woke up later, it wasn’t just the two of us,” he said. “I also sleep pretty well at night.”

A major reason as to why the combination of training and work has worked for the two professionals is because of the flexibility of remote work. If Alexander wants to get her run in at two or if Andrews needs to get some work done at night, they can do that.

Andrews and Alexander connected through their shared love for running. The comradery of knowing someone else is going through the same vigorous training has been a big help, said Alexander.

“Even if we aren’t going on runs together, it’s cool to have something in common,” she said. “If Michael can get up at 4:30 a.m., I can do it.”