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Taking Back the Marathon: For Our Strength

The Boston Marathon has traditionally been a day of partying for local college students, with little focus on the running of the race itself. However, the tragic bombings that occurred on April 15, 2013 have inspired many to run in 2014. Taking Back the Marathon features Boston College students who are planning to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon, along with the stories behind their motivation to make this year’s race one to remember.

Nicole Patton, A&S '16

On April 15, 2013, with just over a mile left of my journey in the Boston Marathon, I felt a new rush of energy come over me.

With 25 miles and four hours of work behind me, it was as if I hadn’t been running at all. It was a straight shot to Boylston Street from there, and I thought nothing in the world could stop me from crossing that finish line.

Nothing, unfortunately, but the cowardly acts of those few who broke the hearts of many that day. As I approached the turn onto Boylston Street, I was shocked to see a line of police cruisers blocking runners from entering the final dash.

Within minutes, a day of pride, accomplishment and patriotism took a drastic turn to one of sorrow, frustration and utter confusion. The cramps in my feet that had hampered my last hour quickly disappeared, replaced by greater aches in my heart as the rush towards the finish line turned into an exit in the opposite direction.

As the world watched in numbness, millions were stunned over the tragic events unfolding in front of the runners, spectators, family, friends and volunteers that make the Boston Marathon such a premier sporting event.

For novice runners, training for a marathon is one of the greatest physical and mental challenges to accept.  The Boston Marathon, especially, requires the commitment to wake up on cold winter mornings and storm up Heartbreak Hill when the comfort of your bed is much more appealing. Complete dedication to a cause and individual goal is what drives most runners to take on such a challenge. Last year I committed to run on behalf of the Boston College Campus School, but also to prove something to myself.

Completing a marathon was something I thought would be impossible, never having full confidence that I would even be able to run even up to fifteen miles. So when I began to train, and as the number of miles continued to accumulate, I realized the power of what I could accomplish. I had never truly overcome something that once was such a distant dream.

This year, however, is very different. As I run, I let my mind wander; instead of thinking about myself and dwelling on my personal goals, I’m thinking about others.

I reflect on those who were robbed of their ability to run, walk or ever stand on their own two feet again. Throughout this winter, training has had new meaning. Without a doubt, it’s the thought of those who suffered and all those still experiencing pain and sorrow that motivates me to push that extra mile. This new purpose has helped me understand that the state of health allowing me to run a marathon is a gift, especially when it’s on behalf of others.

The pain that I face in training is only temporary, while many of these victims face physical and emotional pain that will last forever.

This year, I was fortunate to be accepted to run and fundraise on behalf of Tufts Medical Center, a hospital that took in many of the immediate victims close to the finish line. These days, when I leave for a long training runs, I find myself thinking of the people who have been in and out of the hospital, those who were injured, who suffer mentally and those every day that live with last year’s tragic events.

The day of the marathon is near and I have no doubt it will be emotional for all. I no longer consider the challenge of the run to be about me and I certainly won’t agonize over my aches and pains. I care about the strength I will represent and what Boston has shown over the last year, and how this city will--as it always has--empower myself and others to stride across the finish line for those who can’t.

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