Missoula Runners Prove Their Resilience in 2014 Boston Marathon

By EVA DUNN-FROEBIG

The Boston Marathon on April 21, Patriots’ Day, was a significant day for runners all over the world. It was a day for us to prove our resilience and show that last year’s Boston Marathon bombing won’t stop us from running. In fact, more people wanted to participate in this year’s Boston Marathon than ever before to show their support for the City of Boston and the victims of last year’s marathon.

Locally, 13 runners from Missoula participated in the Boston Marathon, including Trisha Drobeck who ran in the women’s elite field. The Runners Edge hosted a live screening of the Boston Marathon and we all got to watch and cheer together as Trisha crossed the finish line on screen.

We watched Olympian Meb Keflezighi win the Boston Marathon in a thrilling, tough and emotional finish. Meb became the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983, a proud moment for him and our country during a year when we really needed his win. Although American Olympian Shalane Flanagan led much of the women’s race, she didn’t win “for Boston” as she hoped. Shalane placed 7th and gave everything she had for a PR of 2:22:02.

Boston Marathon

Last year I watched the live feed of the Boston Marathon on my laptop in the background while I worked. Patriots’ Day is always a day I look forward to even though I have never participated in the Boston Marathon.  I love tracking Missoula runners online and watching the awesome elites finish strong. Last year once I had finished watching the elite runners cross the finish line I turned off the live feed of the Boston Marathon and went back to working. Soon after I received a phone call from a local TV reporter asking me to comment on the Boston Marathon. My first thought was “Why would she want me—someone in Missoula—to comment on the most high profile running event in the world?” When she sensed my confusion she told me that a few minutes earlier a bomb had exploded at the Boston Marathon. I quickly got off the phone and texted and called everyone I knew in Boston. Within about 20 minutes I learned that all of the Missoula runners in Boston were safe. It was amazing to me that our community of runners was able to account for everyone so quickly.

Boston Marathon. Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia.The next week was one of the most challenging of my professional life. The media wanted to hear from Run Wild Missoula and I was asked to comment on the violence at the Boston Marathon. The bombing had nothing to do with running; it could have happened anywhere, but because it affected runners it suddenly became about running. There were questions about security and safety at running events. There were questions about how our sport would be affected by this violence. Mostly, though, the questions from runners in our community were “What can I do to help?” Missoula wanted to do something in response to the violence in Boston and they looked to Run Wild Missoula foranswers.

A few days after the 2013 Boston Marathon, Anders Brooker, the Missoula Marathon Race Director and owner of the Runners Edge, and I sat in his office drafting a press release about our reaction to the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Anders had just received a mass email from a running store resource letting him know that running stores and organizations all over the country were organizing runs to show their support for Boston one week after the event. From there came a flurry of activity and phone calls and emails. What followed was an organized run at McCormick Park. Mike Foote, ultra trail runner and race director for the Runners Edge, and Anders Brooker, and I worked together to order t-shirts, get permits and line up vendors. Run Wild Missoula and the Runners Edge decided to donate the registration fees from the event to Boston One Fund, the organization set up by the mayor of Boston and governor of Massachusetts to be distributed to victims of the bombing of the Boston Marathon. The Runners Edge and Run Wild Missoula paid for the t-shirt expense and dozens of businesses came forward to donate towards the event, including t-shirt printing costs and post-race refreshments.

So what did the Boston Marathon mean for over 35,000 runners this year? I can’t speak for everyone, but for some it meant unfinished business after the bombings prevented runners from finishing last year. Others ran to show their support for the victims and some ran to show our defiance, strength and resilience. Most runners also likely ran the best race they could run for themselves, too. This year the Boston Marathon was more than about finishing a race.

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