It was one year ago that two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. This week, the city of Boston is marking the one-year anniversary of the April 15, 2013 bombing and preparing for this year’s race.
Locally, three dozen runners from northwest Florida (30) and south Alabama (6) will be among the more than 36,000 marathoners that are headed to Boston for the 2014 race. For many of them, it will be a return trip. In 2013, Pensacola City Councilman and architect Brian Spencer crossed the finish line about 30 minutes before the first bombing.
“We owe it to them to return and not let this individual or individuals taint the rich history of the Boston Marathon,” said Spencer in a cell phone interview from Boston one day after the bombing.
Over the past 12 months, Spencer says his resolve was strengthened even more after talking with fellow Pensacola area runners, who were also there and wanted to rally for Boston.
In the weeks and months after the bombing, Spencer kept up with developments in the case while also focusing on efforts to qualify for the upcoming race.
The Boston Marathon features the best marathoners in the world, who must post qualifying race times at sanctioned events to get an invitation.
Because of his promise to the armed guard who escorted his entourage from their hotel lobby to the taxi and asked them to ‘please return to Boston,” Spencer says he immediately began training for a qualifying race for the 2014 event.
With the help of his good friend Paul Epstein, owner of Running Wild, Spencer says post a qualifying time of just under 3:20:00 at Grandma’s Marathon held in June of last year in Duluth, Minnesota.
Spencer says training for marathons encompasses all aspects of your lifestyle. In addition to the running, it’s about what you’re doing, what you’re eating, and how much rest you’re getting.
On the long training runs, there’s a lot of time to think. Spencer uses some of the time for problem-solving related to his work as an architect. Also, he says “I personally toggle back and forth between envisioning, imagining, and anticipating the actual race that I’m training for.”
Anticipating what he’ll be thinking about on race day, Spencer says the faces of the many thousands of spectators along the route come to mind. He says elation and enthusiasm from 26 miles of shoulder-to-shoulder supporters is one of the most memorable aspects of the event.
“I can’t help but think that as I approach the final two miles, my emotions will be heightened. I expect it, so I’m preparing for it. So, when I make that famous turn on Boylston Street,” said Spencer with his voice wavering, “I’m sure that it will be a life time memory.”
Spencer says his wife Crystal Spencer will be making the trip with him again, and expressed confidence in the safety measures that have been put in place this year.
“I have absolutely no doubt at all that the runners and spectators in Boston will be very well protected and that the world and nation will see ‘Boston Strong’ like they could have never imagined before this event.”
Counting Spencer, there will be fourteen runners from Pensacola taking part in the 2014 Boston Marathon. Additionally from northwest Florida, there are three from Gulf Breeze, six from Navarre, two from Niceville, one from Destin, one from Mary Esther, and three from Santa Rosa Beach. From south Alabama, four runners from Fairhope and two from Atmore qualified for the race.