Rory Whitbread, a teacher at Ecole Lacombe Junior High School, is proud, for a number of reasons, to have been part of the 2014 Boston Marathon.
“I knew that this year, because of the events of last year, was going to be huge,” said Whitbread.
He said he has been running sporadically throughout his life but it wasn’t until 2008 that he started taking it seriously.
At that time, he was introduced to Lacombian Bill Nielsen who continued to be an inspiration to Whitbread as he continued to train seriously for marathons.
This year’s Boston Marathon was Whitbread’s seventh marathon and his second year running in the well-known event, the first being in 2011.
Whitbread ran this year’s race in tribute to Nielsen, who at the time was very ill and passed away very recently.
Whitbread finished the Boston Marathon this year with a time of two hours and 57 minutes, a new personal best for him and easily within his goal of a sub three-hour marathon. He said he was very pleased with the result and was spurred on throughout the race knowing he was running for a dear friend and had his wife waiting for him at the end as well as several people following him electronically.
Running in the Boston Marathon in the first year after the bombing was certainly a special feeling for Whitbread.
When news of the bombing broke last year, Whitbread said his initial reaction was one of bewilderment.
“It was such a confusing thing,” said Whitbread. “What was the motivation? Why would anyone want to tarnish such a neat event? It was anger, it was confusion, it was a range of emotions that I felt. So one year later, it was very neat to be part of it again.”
Although Whitbread had made plans to participate in this year’s Boston Marathon prior to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, he felt a little more driven, rather than scared, to participate in this year’s race after they happened.
He also said that he felt the race had a little more significance this year in light of the tragedies of the previous event.
What thoughts Whitbread had for personal safety were of his wife, who would be waiting at the finish line during the race.
Whitbread said he found out that she had been standing quite near where one of the bombs had gone off the year before.
Whitbread said the events at last year’s Boston Marathon were certainly on his mind while he was in Boston. He added that he was not alone in his feelings.
“There was definitely a feeling in the air that everyone was remembering the events of last year,” said Whitbread. He added that the feeling was one of positive energy and overcoming what had happened the year before.
This year also saw what Whitbread considered to be increased numbers of participants as well as spectators because of those feelings, he said. He added there was an estimated one million people lined up along the route cheering on the runners.
Prior to the race start, runners and fans observed a moment of silence with an air ambulance flyover in memory of those who had been killed and injured in last year’s tragedy, said Whitbread.
He added that the day before, runners had met at the finish line of the race where memorials had been set up for those who had died as well as recognition for those who had been injured.
Whitbread said this had been done the last time he had participated in the Boston Marathon as well and was a time of much celebration, but this year was a little different.
He also said mourners, runners and other supporters of the marathon had left wristbands, runners and race bibs behind at the memorials as a sign of their tribute and remembrance.
“It was still a happy place, but definitely the victims were on people’s minds.”