By Eric Bourque
Among the Yarmouth-area runners planning to do the Boston Marathon this year are two who were there in 2013 – when the event was shattered by deadly bombings – and another who will be running Boston for the first time.
Marco Albright finished Boston last year about an hour before the bombs went off. Nicole Gushue was about 600 metres from the finish when the explosions happened and never got to cross the finish line. Both are going back.
Dick Davis, another local resident, has never run Boston before, but he plans to be there this year, joining thousands of others on Monday, April 21, for the world’s oldest annually contested marathon.
Asked how he expects Boston will be different this year, given the tragedy of 12 months ago, Albright said, “I know there’s going to be a lot of security … Obviously they don’t want any kind of repeat.”
But he said he thinks the spirit of Boston will be “stronger than ever.”
This will be the third Boston for the 40-year-old Albright. Aside from last year, he also ran the race in 2009.
Unlike Albright, Gushue was still on the Boston course when the bombs went off a year ago. Six-tenths of a kilometre from the end, she was told she wouldn’t be able to continue to the finish, although she made a point of turning back and running another 600 metres or so to complete the marathon distance of 42.195 km.
Gushue, 43, initially wasn’t planning to return to Boston this year, but she changed her mind. What did it was getting the race package that is mailed to Boston participants. How many runners would love to receive this, she thought.
(Gushue ran Boston last year as part of a charity team. By the time she decided to run Boston again this year, the deadline for signing on to support the same cause had come and gone.)
As for the tragedy of last year’s Boston, she said she has tried to stay away from the media coverage. Referring to video footage of the bombings, she said, “If I see it, it hits me emotionally. If I avoid it, I don’t even think about it.”
For Dick Davis, a 71-year-old Yarmouthian, Boston will be a new experience.
“I understand it’s a real big event,” he said. “It looks like it’ll be really interesting and kind of different from anything I’ve ever done before.”
He credits fellow runner Jeff Gushue, Nicole Gushue’s husband, with helping prepare him for the 2013 Nova Scotia Marathon in Barrington, where Davis qualified for Boston.
Davis already had run at least a couple of marathons prior to that, but he wanted to do another as a way of marking a personal milestone.
“I decided I was going to do a marathon for my 70th birthday,” Davis said, referring to the Barrington event last year. “Jeff kind of trained me for it.”
This winter made training a challenge, he said, an assessment shared by Albright, who said he couldn’t recall another winter quite like this one.
“It’s been pretty harsh, for sure,” Albright said. “It makes it tough – it really does – to get ready for an early-spring marathon.”
Albright has run between 30 and 35 marathons over the past decade. When interviewed for this story, he said he had a tender hamstring but said he expected it would get better before long. He was looking forward to “a good experience and a solid run” in Boston.
Nicole Gushue has done two marathons – the Yarmouth one in 2011 and Boston last year – and she isn’t quite sure how she’ll do in Boston this time, she said, given that she didn’t do a great deal of running this winter. Indeed, winter was over – officially at least – before she settled on returning to Boston this year after all.
Regardless of her level of preparation, however, Gushue finally decided the chance to do another Boston was one she couldn’t pass up. And so she will return, intent on doing something she didn’t get to do a year ago: cross the finish line.
“Even if I walk part of the way, that’s fine with me because I didn’t put in the training this winter,” she said. “I can just go (and) run/walk, enjoy the scenery, the sights, talk with people on the way.”
Talking is something Davis likes to do while running, a sport he took up when he was 49. He enjoys training with others and chatting.
Asked what prompted him to try the marathon, he said, “I’d heard they were really hard to do and that I should do them before I got too old.”