Boston marathon gets more personal after 2013 bombing
For as long as I could remember the Boston Marathon came and went on it’s traditional Patriots’ Day date – the third Monday in April – with little notice.
That is other than admiring those who choose to run over 26 miles and wonder what drove them to do so because my numerous walk-jogs in Bloomsday’s 7.46 miles have been generally debilitating.
That was until April 15, 2103 when a pair of bombs detonated near the finish line, killing three spectators, injuring more than 200 more and focusing the attention of the world to learn more than we ever thought we would about the nation’s oldest marathon.
Before the Tsarnaev brothers – Dzhokhar and Tamerlan – allegedly set off pressure cooker bombs, the Marathon’s most notable run in with infamy was Rosie Ruiz, who in 1980 came from out of nowhere to win the women’s race.
An investigation later concluded Ruiz had skipped most of the race and blended into the crowd about one mile from the finish line. Ruiz was later disqualified with Canadian Jacqueline Gareau being crowned.
Boylston Street and Copley Square were familiar to me from a trip to Boston in 2012 where my wife and I toured all kinds of our history from Faneuil Hall to Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail, and seemingly everything in between.
At the time of our trip, Boylston was nothing more than Boston’s version of Division Street or Sprague Avenue.
We didn’t realize it was the main drag for the home stretch of the marathon. Until, that is, footage of the bombs exploding showed the proximity to the blasts of a Rite Aid Drug store we purchased water to quench our thirst for the several mile walk to Fenway, and a backpack to carry souvenirs.
The Boston Marathon course runs through 26 miles, 385 yards of winding roads and city streets into the center of Boston, where the official finish line is located at Copley Square.
While most people now know the Boston Marathon from what they’ve seen and read, Medical Lake’s Randy Harrison experienced April 20, 2009, up close and painfully personal from his one and so far, only, trip to the Boston Marathon.
Harrison didn’t have a good run, he said this week. “I cramped up and things like that.” But he did finish and that was good enough. Harrison, then 56, finished 12,477th overall, 9,053 for his gender and 463rd for his age group out of a field of over 26,000 competitors.
“Basically that was my goal,” he said. “To get there was a once in a lifetime event for me, I did that and I was happy with that.”
Harrison will tell you that all the pain is worth it to have a T-shirt from the granddaddy of all marathons — Boston.
Like so many others, Harrison followed last year’s events on TV.” You think just a few years ago you were right in there,” Harrison said.
And he naturally followed the lead up to this year’s race which came off without a headline-grabbing hitch and saw history of a better kind made when Meb Keflezighi, a former New York City Marathon champion, became the first American to win at Boston since 1983.
Having gone through the rigorous training needed to even qualify for Boston — that of running in an acceptable qualifying marathon for one thing like he did in Las Vegas in 2007 — Harrison had a huge amount of empathy for some other “victims” of the terrorist attack.
Those were the runners who traveled, competed, yet were stopped in their tracks after the bombs went off.
“I can’t even imagine being one of the people who didn’t get to finish,” Harrison said. “(To) put all those hours and hours of training get that close and you don’t even get to finish?”
But he realizes that disappointment is just that.
“Of course that’s something minor to what the people went through that lost limbs and lives and things like that,” Harrison said.
Harrison had originally planned to return to Boston in 2010 but that did not happen. However, with what occurred in 2013, it’s rekindled his desire to take one more shot.
“Eventually, some day I’d like to get my miles back up and go back there again, especially now,” Harrison said. “I’ll get there, I’m still able bodied.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.