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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • Runners' Corner: Boston Marathon buildup intensifies as race draws near

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  • I’ve run the Boston Marathon 35 times. I’ve been a member of the BAA Boston Marathon organizing committee for 25 years. My wife has run Boston. My two children have run Boston. The race director, Dave McGillivray, is one of my dearest friends. Hundreds of my friends will run this year. Yes, you could say, it’s played a pretty important role in my life.
    In the 38 years that I’ve been involved in the Boston Marathon, I’ve felt pretty confident about the way things would go on race day, with three exceptions.
    The first one was in 1977, the first year that I ran. I had never even seen the race before, and had only started running the previous July. But I promised my wife, Lyn, that I wanted to run Boston just once, and she was an incredible source of strength for me.
    When I left to run my qualifying race in Baltimore in December, my daughter, Crissy, was just a few weeks old. As excited as I was to be a father of my second daughter, Lyn will tell you that all I could talk about was qualifying for and then running my first Boston. Ultimately, she even forgave me for reneging on my promise to only run Boston once.
    The second was in 2012. That was the first year that I did not pin a number to my singlet to make the journey from Hopkinton to Boston. I will confess that I had a very hard time dealing with my decision, even though I knew it was the right thing to do. I was depressed, and I hate to say jealous of many friends who were running that year.
    Once again, Lyn really helped me through the day. In addition to my regular duties on the organizing committee, she invited me to be a part of her human chain team. As a member of this elite team, we were the human starting line standing nose-to-nose with the fastest marathoners in the world. It was a truly amazing experience, and certainly helped get me through the day.
    And finally with the 118th edition just days away, I really don’t know what to expect.
    I’m not afraid of a repeat of last year’s tragedy. As Dave McGillivray has proclaimed: "Boston will be the safest place in the world on April 21."
    But I am still afraid.
    Anyone who has run this marathon, served as a volunteer, had a friend or relative run the event or has had even the remotest connection to it feels ownership. It’s ours.
    We were horrified that anyone would try to take it away from us, and we vowed to be back bigger and better than ever. After all, we are ‘Boston Strong’.
    Page 2 of 2 - The pressure is on the race organizers to get everything right, because the eyes of the world will be on Boston, and the BAA has stepped up its game.
    I know that every effort has been made to make this the safest possible race without significantly altering the family friendly atmosphere, which is its hallmark. I have great faith that the stewards of this race —Executive Director Tom Grilk, Race Director Dave McGillivray and the BAA organizing committee team — will produce a race for the ages. So, what scares me?
    I think it’s the intensity of emotions I am already feeling. As important as this race has been for me, I am taken aback by how often I begin to get overwhelmed thinking about race day.
    I wonder if this year will mend the damage done last year, or will it reopen emotional wounds?
    Will my friends, who didn’t get to finish last year’s race, feel fulfilled when they cross the finish line?
    Will those, who suffered as victims, find the strength to continue their courageous recoveries while remaining in our thoughts and prayers?
    Will the thousands of runners who were unable to get a number to run this year or the thousands of volunteers who were turned away because of the overwhelming response understand the constraints that kept them away?
    Will the intense media coverage be respectful?
    Will the 118th Boston mark the beginning of moving forward, while not forgetting the past?
    The answers will come on April 21.
    I hope that after this year’s race we can finally remove the word bombing when we talk about the Boston Marathon.
    Tom Licciardello is a founding member of the Merrimack Valley Striders. Licciardello has participated in 35 Boston’s and 88 marathons. He has also completed the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Professionally, he is a certified financial planner and resides in North Andover, Mass., with his wife, Lyn. He may be reached at tomlicc@verizon.net.

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