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Senseless act should motivate 2014 runners

The bombing at this year’s Boston Marathon has shaken New England, but it won’t stop the event

Like most New Englanders, it is hard not to become engulfed in the Boston Marathon tragedy.

As much as it has pained me to see the innocent victims, I just can’t seem to look away. I want to know the latest updates on the investigation and if the police and FBI are closer to catching the cowards who did this.

Most of us from the New England states have walked the very street were the bombs were detonated on Monday that brought an abrupt end to the 117th running of the most famed marathon in the world. And quite a few have run that stretch as they approached the finish line and the ultimate prize for a runner.

I have never run a marathon, let alone the historic 26-mile journey from Hopkinton to Copley Square, but as an on-again, off-again runner, it is one of those things that I loosely consider to be in my bucket list. Only time will tell if I ever get to cross it off.

But for so many runners on Monday, the opportunity to say they finished the Boston Marathon was taken away by a senseless act of violence.

For so many others, their lives were changed forever. People lost loved ones, others lost limbs and the family of eight-year-old Martin Richard, one of the three spectators who died as a result of the bombing, will never be the same. My heart can’t help but break for the Richard family.

Surely, everybody who witnessed the two bombs go off and the carnage and chaos that ensued lost some comfort in their safety in this world. It would be hard not to.

If you can’t go and watch something as innocent as a marathon, what can you do?

And while it is so hard not to think about all the people who died and were injured, as a sports enthusiast my mind keeps going back to the runners.

What went through their minds when they were told to stop? Some less than a mile from the finish line. It must have been a confusing and scary time, especially not knowing if there were more bombs.

Very few of them probably had a clue as to why they were being prevented from going any farther and ushered off the abruptly closed course. And for many, this was their bucket list moment. This was their one shot at saying they completed the Boston Marathon.

Since I have never run a marathon, I can only imagine that by the end of it your body just aches. Your muscles are cramping, you are severely dehydrated and the enormity of the day starts to set in. At least that is what I’ve heard.

Over my years at the paper, I have interviewed quite a few marathon runners and many who targeted Boston as their one and only attempt at completing the grueling physical and mental challenge.

It takes months to train for something like that. You can’t just step out from your front door and run 26.2 miles. I don’t care what kind of athlete you are or how good a shape you are in — preparing for a marathon is a long process.

And that is just one of the many reasons that makes this so sad and hard to comprehend. People spent hours away from their families to train for this one day. And in an instant the joyous celebration of their achievement turned into panic and horror.

Since the qualifying standards are so rigid for Boston, a lot of runners connect with a charity to raise money for worthy causes like cancer research or the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Next year there will undoubtedly be a large contingent running for the victims of Monday’s tragedy.

I’ve read and watched many stories over the last few days from runners, spectators and medical personnel recounting their experiences with the moments that will live on forever as a dark day in Boston’s rich history.

Like everybody else, I have had a few days to process what went on, although it seems like every time I turn around there is a new development.

One year ago on Patriots Day, I was in Boston at the Red Sox game.

You could just feel the buzz around the city and a lot of that had to do with the marathon. I even got to see some of the runners as they ran through Kenmore.

From what I’ve heard, this year was no different.

While the bombings will surely have people on edge next year — and sadly keep some spectators away — race officials have already said that the 2014 race will go on as planned. That is music to my ears.

My hope for next year is that even more people run and that those who were unable to finish return for another shot.

That would be the best response.

Keep up the good work Tim. You have interviewed me a few times. As marathons are my primary pastime, I always enjoy looking for your coverage of Boston each year. I know many, many, Boston marathoners who would not even slightly consider letting this tragedy interfere with their plans for running in the 2014 Boston Marathon, myself being one of them. Kudo's to the people of Watertown, MA, and everyone else associated resolving this crime. Tom Peters, Francestown, NH

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