Jamaica Plain runners training for the April 19 Boston Marathon, the first since last year’s infamous terrorist bombing, told the Gazette they know this one is special.
“This year’s race will have special significance for me, as it will for all the runners and spectators,” JP resident Harry Smith told the Gazette. “The words ‘Boston Strong’ have been overused in the past year, but this year’s marathon will make a strong statement about the strength and resiliency of our city.”
Smith, who heads the local JP Regan Youth League baseball group and is running to raise funds for it, said he had decided that last year would be his third and last marathon. But when he was stopped half a mile from the finish line by the bombing, he knew he would have to run again this year.
“I’m not really worried about my own security along the course, although I will have very mixed emotions when I run up Boylston Street to the finish line,” he said. “I have a number of friends who are first responders and race volunteers, and I worry about the stress that they will be under as they try to ensure that the runners are able to finish safely. I also worry about my friends and family who will be out on the course cheering on the runners.”
Chris Bauernfeind, a JP resident running to benefit the New England Aquarium, said that while he’s not an emotional guy, he cried after finishing the marathon last year, about an hour and a half before the explosions.
“Last year made a difference. I was bummed out and mad,” he told the Gazette last week.
Like Smith, he was not expecting to run this year’s race this time last year, but because of the attack, he changed his mind.
“I love the marathon. I love Patriots’ Day. It’s a thing my family and I look forward to every year,” Bauernfeind said. “It’s a great day.”
Derly Ortiz has run several marathons before—though this will be her first time running the Boston Marathon—and is selling bracelets to help raise money for the Franklin Park Coalition. Last year, volunteered at mile 20.
“After the [bombing], it was very emotional and heartbreaking. I wanted [to] and was committed to run Boston this year. I want to be part of the historic event,” she told the Gazette.
She said that training has been “challenging.”
“I have been training on the famous Heartbreak Hill to get my body prepared to what’s to come. Those hills are tough,” she said. “My goal is to finish strong in this race and [I’m] determined to be my best.”
Other JP residents are running for various other causes, including a team of six JP residents running to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and two others running to support Samaritans, a local suicide prevention organization.