Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer
Joan Benoit Samuelson
MaineÃ¢Â€Â™s most heralded athlete no longer runs marathons without media attention. For last yearÃ¢Â€Â™s race, 30 years after she set a world record of 2:22:43 on the same streets from Hopkinton to Boston, Joan Benoit SamuelsonÃ¢Â€Â™s goal was to finish within 30 minutes of her historic mark.
Achieving that time would require a 6:35 pace per mile, considerably below her fastest training run, which was 20 miles at a 7:08 pace.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI went a little bit out on a limb with that projection,Ã¢Â€Â she said later, after removing her pink Nike running shoes and revealing her goal time inscribed on her insoles.
Of course, Joan being Joan, she beat her goal by more than two minutes, finishing in 2:50:29 Ã¢Â€Â“ the fastest marathon ever run by a woman 55 or older. SamuelsonÃ¢Â€Â™s feel-good story, however, was soon superseded by the tragic events that followed.
The 1984 Olympic marathon champion, a native of Cape Elizabeth and resident of Freeport, Samuelson is now 56 and plans to run Boston again this year, along with daughter Abby, 26, and son Anders, 24.
Ã¢Â€ÂœOur sport is resilient,Ã¢Â€Â she said. Ã¢Â€ÂœI think this will be a show of courage by runners and victims alike.Ã¢Â€Â
Two other former champions, Amby Burfoot (1968) of Connecticut and Gelindo Bordin (1990) of Italy also plan to run Monday.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe first line that came out of my mouth after the bombings was: Ã¢Â€Â˜It was a day when tragedy trumped triumph,Ã¢Â€Â™ Ã¢Â€Â Samuelson said.
Ã¢Â€ÂœNow weÃ¢Â€Â™re all trying to be triumphant in our efforts. We need to continue to support and celebrate the comebacks, and the efforts that are still being made by those who suffered the greatest wounds that day. There are more important stories to be told this year. I canÃ¢Â€Â™t speak for the victims, even though IÃ¢Â€Â™ve met many of them.
Ã¢Â€ÂœItÃ¢Â€Â™s hard to know how things are going to unfold this year except that this year is a tribute to those who were harmed, and to those who lost their lives, and to those who are running for these people in one way or another, and to those who are inspired or are inspiring other people.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€Â“ Glenn Jordan
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
Phil Pierce, 72, of Falmouth, a clinical psychologist at the Veterans Administration hospital at Togus, was running his 28th Boston Marathon last April. He made it to Commonwealth Avenue before coming upon a barricade.
Pierce skirted the barricade and continued to Hereford Street, one turn from Boylston, before hearing of an explosion near Copley Square. He abandoned his race, found the bus carrying his change of clothing and walked to his car near Boston Common.
He drove over the Mystic River Bridge, passed through New Hampshire and arrived home in Maine before fully understanding what had transpired.
Ã¢Â€ÂœBefore I left, they had shut down the cell phone service so nobody could call anybody out of Boston,Ã¢Â€Â Pierce said. Ã¢Â€ÂœI was probably five to seven minutes away when the bombs went off, but I didnÃ¢Â€Â™t hear or see anything.Ã¢Â€Â
Pierce regularly evaluates veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI didnÃ¢Â€Â™t see any of the trauma that occurred in Boston,Ã¢Â€Â he said. Ã¢Â€ÂœI didnÃ¢Â€Â™t even know about it until I got home.Ã¢Â€Â
Security for subsequent races changed because of the bombings in Boston. At last monthÃ¢Â€Â™s New Bedford Half Marathon, Pierce said bag checks were common.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThose bombings have had a profound effect on races and the whole running community,Ã¢Â€Â he said. Ã¢Â€ÂœThe whole system has changed. YouÃ¢Â€Â™ve got 36,000 people leaving all their clothes in Hopkinton.Ã¢Â€Â
Indeed, a fourth wave was added to accommodate increased interest, making this yearÃ¢Â€Â™s field second only to the 1996 centennial race, when a field of 38,708 took part. Runners Ã¢Â€Â“ not friends or family Ã¢Â€Â“ may pack a change of clothing in an official clear plastic bag and check it at Boston Common early Monday before heading out to Hopkinton. Clothing not worn during the race must be discarded in Hopkinton and will be donated to a local charity.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI really wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t affected by anything. I signed up for the Maine Coast Marathon three weeks later and ran that.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€Â“ Glenn Jordan
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
Unseasonably warm conditions for the 2012 Boston Marathon led organizers to offer deferments to any runners who would rather not risk overheating on the 26.2-mile journey from Hopkinton.
Kate Kelly, an administrative assistant from Cumberland, considered postponing her first Boston attempt until 2013 but ultimately decided to go for it.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAt that point,Ã¢Â€Â she said, Ã¢Â€ÂœI was ready to run.Ã¢Â€Â
Run she did, albeit more slowly than she had planned, for more than 51/2 hours. Her husband and some friends waited on Boylston Street, in front of DunkinÃ¢Â€Â™ Donuts near the Exeter Street intersection, between the two sites where, a year later, two homemade bombs exploded, killing three spectators and injuring more than 250 others.
Ã¢Â€ÂœHad I deferred, my family and friends would have been right there,Ã¢Â€Â Kelly said. Ã¢Â€ÂœIÃ¢Â€Â™m so very grateful I didnÃ¢Â€Â™t.Ã¢Â€Â
Instead, Kelly spent last Patriots Day with the Maine Track ClubÃ¢Â€Â™s Yarmouth Roasters Ã¢Â€Â“ so named because they meet for long Saturday runs at Maine Roasters Coffee Ã¢Â€Â“ who staffed a water stop near Mile 14 in Wellesley.
Ã¢Â€ÂœIt was a beautiful sunny day,Ã¢Â€Â she said. Ã¢Â€ÂœWe set up tables with water and Gatorade, and we had a terrific day. It was exciting to see many of our close friends run by. Around 2 oÃ¢Â€Â™clock we started to take down the tables and we had all gotten in the cars around 3.
Ã¢Â€ÂœOne of the girls went on her cell phone and said, Ã¢Â€Â˜Oh my God, thereÃ¢Â€Â™s been a bombing.Ã¢Â€Â™ We wanted to head to the finish line to help but unfortunately we couldnÃ¢Â€Â™t get through.
Ã¢Â€ÂœWe tried to contact all our friends that we hoped had finished. Some were diverted at Mile 25. Our families were trying to contact us. It was chaotic.
Ã¢Â€ÂœOn the way home phones were ringing, we were listening to news on the radio. It was quite devastating.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThis year I had so many people contact me who wanted to volunteer. We are all so excited to be able to participate (at the same water stop). Everyone wants to be part of Boston Strong.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€Â“ Glenn Jordan
Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
In his first attempt at Boston last April, David Holman, 30, of North Yarmouth figured he would step up his pace at Mile 24 to finish strong. Cheering crowds within the city drowned out the noise of the blasts, so Holman had no idea why runners ahead of him had stopped.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAfter a very awkward minute of everyone trying to maintain their position, a sense of danger set in,Ã¢Â€Â Holman said. Ã¢Â€ÂœPeople began running along sidewalks and I heard there had been an explosion and people were hurt.
Ã¢Â€ÂœSoon all manner of police cars, black SUVs, helicopters, ambulances and firetrucks descended on the area. Some runners were in bad shape, collapsing and going into shock. Most were just exhausted and stiff. No police or race officials ever told the crowd what was happening.
Ã¢Â€ÂœBut we were the lucky ones. People helped each other. Spontaneous generosity abounded. Two cooks came out from a restaurant with a soup tureen full of water, a big ladle and cups, and began giving people drinks. The residents of a nice brownstone on Commonwealth Avenue let me and other runners in their house. They gave us blankets, water, Internet and let us use their phone. I reached my parents but couldnÃ¢Â€Â™t reach my wife and friend. When I left their house, I finally found my wife in the crowd of thousands milling around and we decided to start walking away from the scene.
Ã¢Â€ÂœAs we crossed the bridge to MIT, another big explosion went off back in Boston. Everyone looked back in fear. I learned later that this was a controlled detonation of a suspicious camera bag. I wasnÃ¢Â€Â™t particularly worried or panicked for myself at any point, but it certainly was a surreal and confusing experience.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI am so terribly sad for the innocent people who were wounded, crippled and killed by the Tsarnaev brothers. I am a Quaker and donÃ¢Â€Â™t believe in the death penalty Ã¢Â€Â“ murdering a murderer only creates a martyr and shows our children we believe two wrongs make a right and that violence solves problems. I think this terrorist should be granted a fair trial and if found guilty, imprisoned. Justice, democracy and equality are the only real weapons we have against extremism.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€Â“ Glenn Jordan
Aram Boghosian photo
Alicia Leeman, 35, is a 1996 Portland High graduate and daughter of a longtime city councilor. Now working in Cambridge, Mass., Leeman was tracking several friends near the 19-mile mark before heading downtown for the finish.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI was really excited,Ã¢Â€Â she said. Ã¢Â€ÂœI had watched the race from the Newton Hills several times and run it twice before, but never cheered from the crowded streets of Hereford or Boylston.Ã¢Â€Â
Upon finding a good vantage point on Commonwealth Avenue, she stopped and held up her homemade sign. At the sound of the first blast, a murmur passed through the crowd. A Patriots Day cannon?
Ã¢Â€ÂœThen the second blast went off,Ã¢Â€Â Leeman said, Ã¢Â€Âœand we all knew instantly something really bad happened.Ã¢Â€Â
Spectators handed cell phones to runners trying to reach loved ones. Leeman lent her jacket to a shivering runner whose husband and children were waiting at the finish. Apartment dwellers emerged with water, towels, blankets and news reports.
Ã¢Â€ÂœIt is true what they say about how scary and chaotic it was, but it is also true how the city came together and helped each other without hesitation,Ã¢Â€Â she said.
Leeman led some out-of-town runners over the Charles River to a cab stand and MBTA stop. Sleep proved difficult the next few nights. She didnÃ¢Â€Â™t run again until Thursday after work, then received a text Friday morning imploring her to stay home.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe manhunt was on in the very area that I had run by the night before,Ã¢Â€Â she said. Ã¢Â€ÂœI sat huddled on my couch shaking and crying, frozen in fear and shock. It was all too close. Too much to handle.Ã¢Â€Â
Ten days after Boston, Leeman ran a marathon in California. The sight of flags at the 26-mile mark caused her to burst into tears.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI crossed the finish line sobbing but I did it,Ã¢Â€Â she said. Ã¢Â€ÂœI finished Boston Strong.Ã¢Â€Â
Leeman is running to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, as she did in 2010. She runs in honor of her grandparents and her mother, Cheryl, a breast cancer survivor.
Ã¢Â€ÂœI need to take back Boylston and remember how I thought of it before 2013,Ã¢Â€Â she said. Ã¢Â€ÂœIt is sacred ground and only runners understand how amazing it feels to cross that line.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€Â“ Glenn Jordan
Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer
A South Portland paramedic and firefighter who lives in Wells, Matt Cox was a spectator at last yearÃ¢Â€Â™s race, cheering for his wifeÃ¢Â€Â™s friend, who flew in from Oregon to realize a lifelong ambition. She finished about eight minutes before the explosions, having just reunited with Cox and his wife about a block from Copley Square.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe first one sounded like one of those big dump trucks giving a metallic clang when it bangs shut,Ã¢Â€Â Cox said. Ã¢Â€ÂœThatÃ¢Â€Â™s what I assumed. When the second bomb went off and an ambulance rushed by, I called my mother (in nearby Andover) and told her to turn on the TV and tell me whatÃ¢Â€Â™s going on.Ã¢Â€Â
Cox, 34, sent his wife and her friend away from the blasts and circled back, showed his paramedic card to a race official and asked where help was needed. She directed him toward the medical tent, which was rapidly transformed into a triage center, where he spent the next three hours.
Ã¢Â€ÂœIÃ¢Â€Â™ve been trained for mass casualty and triage, but youÃ¢Â€Â™re picturing a bus accident,Ã¢Â€Â he said. Ã¢Â€ÂœI never imagined walking into the smell of gunpowder and blood.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThe first patient I saw was a little boy with a bloody bandage on his leg. What I remember most, aside from the victims themselves, was how on the ball Boston EMS was. They were amazing. They saved lives.
Ã¢Â€ÂœThere was a whole period of time when nobody knew what was coming next, when I was thinking, this is not a very good place to be. There was a lot of confusion. Those police officers for the next week were chasing down suspicious packages and suspicious people.Ã¢Â€Â
Organizers gave Cox a bib for this yearÃ¢Â€Â™s race after reading an essay he wrote. With support from his local firefighters union, he is raising money in honor of an 8-year-old bombing victim, Martin Richard.
A former teacher who has worked at camps for children with serious illnesses and disabilities, Cox dreams of starting a camp for kids affected by violence.
Ã¢Â€ÂœNot only terrorism but domestic violence as well,Ã¢Â€Â he said. Ã¢Â€ÂœThatÃ¢Â€Â™s a long way off but until then, if I can support something like the Martin Richard Foundation, thatÃ¢Â€Â™s what I want to be doing.Ã¢Â€Â
Ã¢Â€Â“ Glenn Jordan