Honoring the past and preparing for the present: The 118th Boston Marathon

ERINOur very own Handle Bar instructor, Erin McDonald will run this year’s Boston Marathon with a full heart and fierce dedication. We reflect on the past and look forward to Monday, interviewing Erin on her efforts and thoughts during this momentous time.

Every third Monday in April, Patriot’s Day is observed. But to true Bostonians, it’s Marathon Monday! A day to gather along the Boston Marathon course to cheer on the thousands of participants as they complete their 26.2-mile journey from Hopkinton to Copley Square. As always, thousands of onlookers and participants indulged in the Marathon Monday experience on April 15, 2013. Then tragedy struck. Two bombs were detonated near the finish line of the marathon causing shock, horror and complete disbelief. Individuals frantically searched for safety amidst the chaos, while everyone wondered why and how this could happen.

It has been one year since the ghastly attacks that occurred at the 117th Annual Boston Marathon finish line that shook the City of Boston. When we speak of the horrific events that took place, “Boston Strong” is instinctively the phrase uttered, showing the strength and resilience the city possesses. Immediately after the tragedy, Boston came together to provide support to all those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings and emphasize the heart the city truly has.

One year later, the city is prepared for the 118th Boston Marathon, which will take place on Monday, April 21, 2014. Residents of Boston and visitors to the city are eager to participate, volunteer and cheer at the Boston Marathon conveying the message we all know so well “Boston Strong”. Our very own instructor at The Handle Bar, Erin, will be participating in the marathon on April 21st. This will be Erin’s fourth time running in the marathon and it will be a year like no other. Erin expresses her reactions to the events that occurred last year, why she wanted to run this year, and her feelings about the 118th Boston Marathon.

Q: Where were you last year when you first heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line? What were your reactions?

I was walking towards the finish line after leaving a Red Sox Game. I heard a bunch of sirens and could see swarms of police, EMT’s and fire fighters racing towards the finish line. As I walked, I could see people running towards me, crying. I stopped a man and asked what was going on and he told me that there had been some explosions and to not walk down there, it was gruesome. My stomach dropped to my toes and all I could think about were the friends I had that were running and also those who were watching as spectators in the area. I immediately tried to call my mother but my cell phone was not working. I ended up having to walk back towards Fenway Park where I could see so many people with distressed looks on their faces. Thousands of runners had been brought to a halt and pure panic had set in. I proceeded to walk towards the Mass Ave Bridge towards MIT, eventually stopping in at a bar in Cambridge where several televisions had the news on. As I watched in horror I started to cry and felt a tremendous amount of fear and vulnerability.

Q: Why did you want to participate in this year’s Boston Marathon?

After I finished the 2012 Boston Marathon in the extreme heat, I vowed to never run that race again. That lasted exactly one year! After the events that occurred on April 15, 2013 I didn’t give it a second thought. I knew I had to run this marathon at least one more time for the victims, survivors and the city I love so much.

Q: How do you feel the running community reacted to the tragedy that occurred this past year?

I have always felt that the running community was a unique group, but even more so now. The camaraderie and support has been unbelievable. The running community in Boston is a special group that has an endless amount of compassion.

Q: The Boston Athletic Association made the decision to allow for 9,000 more runners in this year’s marathon, making the 2014 race the largest it has ever been. The total field size is 36,000 runners, which is an enormous jump from the amount of participants in years past. Do you feel that it is a good idea to invite more runners to participate in this year’s marathon compared to past years?

I do feel it’s a good idea to invite more runners to participate in this year’s marathon. After seeing so many runners come so close to finishing and suddenly being brought to a halt was devastating. They deserve the opportunity to finish what they started one year ago. And for the added charities, what better way to remember the victims and survivors and to show that Boston will never be defeated. We are stronger and more united than ever!

Q: What is the first thing you think of when you hear “Boston Strong”?

A city that has become more united and resilient. The sense of community that has come out of such a tragedy is amazing and will only grow stronger. As David Ortiz said it best last year “This is our F’N City”. #BOSTONSTRONG

Q: What are you most looking forward to for this year’s marathon?

I am so excited to see how this city celebrates the camaraderie, strength and spirit. I am excited to meet new runners from all over the world and most importantly cross that finish line.

 Boston responded to the tragedy with great courage, strength, and passion. The city will come together for the 2014 Boston Marathon not just to run and support those participating, but to honor the first responders, the survivors and most importantly, remember the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Boston makes it clear that they will not give in to tragedy. When we look around the city, “Boston Strong” is everywhere. But it’s not just a slogan; it is the city’s identity. One year later, Boston is only stronger.

All the victims of this tragedy will never be forgotten and forever will be honored.

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