Runners' Tribute to the Boston Marathon
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The Richard Family
1 of 14
On April 15, 2013, Bill and Denise Richard brought their three children, ages 11, 8 and 7, to Boston to cheer on runners in the marathon. The second of the two bombs detonated within feet of where all five of the Richard family members were standing. The force of the blast took eight-year-old Martin's life. Seven-year-old Jane lost her leg, and Denise suffered a serious eye injury. Shrapnel from the bomb tore into Bill's legs. Henry miraculously didn't suffer from any physical injuries.
In March 2014, Jane received a "Cheetah" running leg, a gift from Wiggle Your Toes and United Prosthetics. Jane has worn it several times to school, which speaks to the can-do spirit she has displayed over the last 11 months.
With this year's Boston Marathon around the corner, we find ourselves fully engaged in getting the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation off to a strong start. The team of runners supporting the foundation has exceeded our every expectation. We are blessed to have found a collection of team players that perfectly embody the values that have always been important to our family.
Our gratitude will never diminish for the support and love we have received over the last 11-plus months. As the next few weeks come and go, we will be thinking about all of the families that have been impacted by the senseless events of last April, and proud of the way the community around us has persevered.
Olympic marathon silver medalist and 2009 New York City Marathon champion 2 of 14
We all started running and continue to run for different reasons, but on April 21, a common purpose will connect every runner. We will run to honor the Boston Marathon, the city of Boston and the unfortunate victims of last year's tragedy.
3 of 14
I lived in Boston from 2007 to 2010, and ran Boston each year that I lived there. This will be my fourth Boston.
I first learned of the bombings when I got an email from a friend asking if I was OK, and if I was running the marathon. My parents also received emails from their friends concerned that I was in the blasts. With the times that I had run Boston, I would have been finishing around that time, and my family would have been waiting there as I rounded the corner to Boylston. It could have been my family, with a red balloon. I could see them, torn to shreds by such a disgusting, senseless act of hate. I spent the day calling my friends whom I had trained and run the marathon with year after year—friendships that were solidified through sodium tabs, the Newton hills, and freezing cold, dark January morning runs. We talked and cried, trying to make sense of the destruction.
I heard from my cousin, a resident trauma surgeon at Boston Medical Center, who had been called back to work to operate on runners. I prayed for his hands, and told him to cut carefully on people's legs—legs that could have been mine. I prayed for him too, someone so young who was witnessing what could be described as the brutality of war.
That day, my running partner and I pledged that we would run in 2014. [We promised] that fear would not control us, and that the spirit of Boston would win over hate and terrorism. Why am I running Boston? How could I not?
4 of 14
Last year I ran Boston. I finished about two minutes before the first bomb went off. I am going back this year because I need to be there and I knew that when I saw all the news reports that night.
photo by Aaron Tang
5 of 14
I was at the far end of the finisher chute when the explosions happened; I was far enough away that we did not see body parts flying, hear screaming, or experience the mayhem. I was very scared and silent, and everyone around me was quiet, too. The sounds were so incredibly loud—nothing like what you heard on TV. It was like a cannon ball on steroids, and there were big balls of smoke. The silence among us was eerie. No hysteria like you see in the movies; instead, everything was a big, fat, scary question mark. Was it a manhole cover exploding? Something backfiring on the T below the street? Everyone was calmly walking forward, exiting the finisher chute to the family reunion area; I went straight down Boylston as fast as I could hobble to a gym where I could shower, get my bags and meet up with my friends who also ran the race.
I was shaking and shivering. I retrieved my iPhone from my tote bag and got onto a few news sites. Nothing. I got into Facebook and scrolled down the news feed. I just saw the words, "Disruption at Boston finish. Race ends early." I was shaky but I called my mom and left her a message to tell her I was OK. I then called my boyfriend to let him know I was OK. I just decided to post on my FB page that I was OK. I was shaking so badly I knew I wouldn't be able to type anymore and I needed to get into the shower upstairs at the gym before second stage hypothermia set in. By this point, we could hear sirens outside. More Boston finishers started trickling into the gym, each with their own stories.
My friends finally arrived, and I was surprised by their lightheartedness (if that's the right word?) yet they were not too happy that they were denied their finishes and finisher's medals. I don't think they understood the gravity of the situation—that people were injured and at least a few were killed. We still didn't know how many. Who cares about a stupid medal, even a coveted Boston medal? I would have gladly given up my medal NOT to have heard those horrid explosions and seen the big clouds of smoke. Gladly.
Marshall, Cynci and Denis, all in their 60s, will be back in Hopkinton on April 21. It will be Denis' first Boston finish, Cynci's 10th I think, and local Marshall will probably place in his age division. I'll be happy to celebrate Boston #14.
6 of 14
The 2013 Boston Marathon bombings felt like an attack on my closest friends. The running community is strong and will continue to be strong, which is why I'm so excited to join thousands of others this year at the 2014 race. We are runners—and we will run!
7 of 14
The Boston Marathon was made a goal after the tragic events of last year. I will not be afraid to step out my door and live a free life. I am so pumped!
photo by Aaron Tang
8 of 14
I admit I was a little afraid to enter a race for a little while [after the bombings], but then I realized that doing such would be doing what the bombers wanted: to scare innocent people out of doing what they love. The last thing I wanted to do is give in to the satisfaction of a monster. Since the bombings, I've run a 5K, a 4-mile race, a 10K and an 8K. My ultimate goal for 2014 is a half marathon, which I'm hoping to do in the fall. The best I can offer for those running in Boston is: Be safe, have fun, good luck, and above all else, stay strong.
9 of 14
I weighed 232 pounds when I started my journey. I am now 152 pounds and just ran my first half marathon. My overall goal is to one day run Boston. The runner's spirit is truly a hard spirit to break! We are tough, headstrong, and the worse part is that we prove to ourselves every day that we are capable on conquering anything that comes our way. First I'll qualify for Houston, then Boston.
photo by Aaron Tang
10 of 14
This year I am running Boston because now, more than ever, the marathon serves as both an inspiration for me to strive for my best every day and a reminder that we cannot have our lives derailed by hatred and fear. Though devastating to all affected last year, participation in the 2014 race will be a way for the world's runners to show our support for the city and our respect for a race that is unrivaled by any other in American history.
11 of 14
I was overseas last year during the Boston marathon and watched the horrific events unfold on TV. It was a very helpless feeling knowing there was nothing I could do to help anyone, so I wanted to run the marathon this year to show my support. I want to make sure the world knows that events like these do not stop us, they only make us stronger.
12 of 14
It would be a lie to say I'm not nervous about going back, but I've never wanted to cross a finish line more than at the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Active running editor 13 of 14
My husband, who works for the New York City Marathon, was on his way to Logan Airport when the bombs went off at the finish line. He called me at the office to tell me that he was OK and on his way to catch his flight. It was the first news I'd heard of the bombs. After I hung up the phone with him, I immediately checked the news, Facebook and Twitter. Phones rang and text message indicators sounded throughout the office at Active, as some of our coworkers were in Boston and many Active employees knew runners participating in the race. The photos, videos and messages posted on social media and gradually online shocked and tormented us all.
When my husband got home late that night, he got into bed next to me, kissed my pregnant belly, and sobbed. He said that he stood watching the professional runners finish the race very close to where the bombs went off nearly two hours later.
To all of those who have spent the past year organizing the event, who will toe the start line at Boston this year, who will gather along the marathon course to cheer for the participants, and who will protect the runners' and spectators' safety on race day: It speaks volumes about how courageous, determined and resilient all of you are that you won't allow an act of terror to prevent you from uniting to spread the joy of running. Your efforts on April 21 will illustrate the best of humanity. Thank you for being so brave and supportive of a cause that we all care about so deeply.