They call it “Boston Strong.”
It’s the resolve the people of that New England city have shown in recovering from the April 15, 2013, terror bombing that killed three people and left 264 injured near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
On Monday, the 118th running of the world’s most famous 26-mile tour will attract a record 36,000 runners. More than 1 million spectators — double last year’s crowd — are expected to view the Patriots’ Day competition.
Among the field will be 26 local marathoners — most of them members of the local Golden Valley Harriers club.
Call it “Davis Strong.”
“People are going because of (last year’s) circumstances and there are people wanting to make a personal statement,” says GVH runner John Burmester, who will be in his third straight Boston race.
“To be honest, I’m a little bit nervous about it. Friends that are going have expressed that as well, but I’m pretty confident there won’t be problems again this year.”
In Boston, race director Dave McGillivray told the media about new marathon-day security:
* First-time runner and fan security checkpoints;
* New stages (called waves), affording a more spread-out race; and
* Greater crowd control (and hundreds more barricades) from the race start in Hopkinton to the Boylston Street finish line.
“The final mile of this year’s race will be like never before,” McGillivray adds. “Emotions will be elevated to an all-time high. The historic ‘right on Hereford, left on Boylston’ experience will last a lifetime.”
Davis’ Mark Murray, 51, has two Boston Marathons under his belt and sees his Monday involvement as a personal statement:
“My decision … is my act of anti-terrorism. I want to be part of the effort to return this event to a positive memory, experience and aspiration for thousands.”
Murray is the executive director of Californians Against Waste and says he knows “about 30 friends from Davis and Sacramento who are going this year.”
Murray remembers running his first marathon as a high school sophomore in 1979. A big fan of distance dandy Bill Rodgers, he thought back to the 1980 race:
“We couldn’t wait to find out the results. A bunch of us gathered at the pay phone outside the principal’s office at lunch time, posted our quarters and called the Boston Globe sports desk to find out who won.”
The good news came: It was Rodgers’ fourth such victory.
Murray has often qualified for the race, but first ran in 1999 (going 2:45). He returned in 2005 with his cousin, whom he helped train.
Burmester, 52, ran cross country and track while at Davis High in the 1970s. He says, however, that it’s only been recently that he’s revisited his love of long distances.
“I started running again about four years ago,” the local property manager told The Enterprise. “I found I had a little speed left.”
This field — the second largest in the race’s history — is crowded because 2013 runners who didn’t finish before the bombing have been invited back. Almost 9,000 have accepted.
Davis optometrist Mark Helmus, whose wife Joey is a veteran of the Boston Marathon 11 years back, wants to run 3:22 or better. Helmus’ brother lives in Boston and he and Joey will be taking in New York City this week before heading north.
“We’ve got lots of friends running this year,” says Helmus, 59, whose wife is not running. It marks Helmus’ 12th marathon in 12 states. He wants to run one in each state before hanging up the shoes.
Registered to compete, IT audit manager Greg Loge found out this weekend he had last-minute commitments locally and scratched his trip.
But he ran in 2013, and was near the finish-line explosions. Finishing the race and getting cleaned up in his hotel room, Loge heard the blasts. He didn’t know what they were and almost continued with plans to meet friends back at the finish line. Everything changed when he went online.
“I looked forward to the race tremendously last year and was happy to make it in and run,” says Loge, 36, who logged a career-best 2:58 in the 2012 Eugene (Ore.) Marathon. “The tragic actions of a few people was a terrible way to end the day and dramatically changed the entire experience for me. I was looking forward to returning and I am sad I will not be able to now.”
Still, the local contingent will be mighty.
Mark Drake, 58, is a guidance counselor at Vacaville High. The GVH member and girlfriend Tiffany Meyer planned on running in the Boston Marathon before the bombings, qualifying a year ago.
Meyer and Drake qualified in Napa in March of 2013, but remembers his 1999 Avenue of the Giants 2:39 effort as “a time that shall forever remain my personal record.”
“The bombing has only solidified our desire to run,” Drake explains. “(It’s our) intent of showing solidarity with runners from all over the world, to honor the innocent victims that were injured or lost their lives — and to make the statement that we won’t allow fear of terrorism to rule our lives.”
Notes: Burmester says it will be tough for Golden Valley Harriers members to stay in contact during the race (each is graded and assigned to waves in a staggered start). But the group is expected to meet on the Boston Commons for a three-mile group run on Sunday. … GVH members expected to compete, according to Burmester, are Clariza Aguillon-Doms, Matt Young, Di Wu, Murray, Gustavo Hernandez, Tiffany Meyer, Helmus, Bruce Fisher, James Flanigan, Burmester himself, Mark Drake, Brian Charn, Laurin Beckhusen, Heather Komure-Chan, Kristen Soloway, Stephen Andrews, Ryan Wiebe, Ollie Ehlinger, Jason Cavatorta and Erin Perry. … Other Davis runners on the Boston Marathon rolls are Bruce Wright, Wendy Allen, Rachel Bailey, Allison Shaffer, Stella Ruiz, Richard Boettner, Taide Guerra-Martinez, Greg Lynch and Stanley Sady. … Murray has run somewhere around 30 marathon in 30 years with a career-best 2:33 coming in the 1981 Oakland race. … Information and results are at www.baa.org. … Golden Valley Harriers has more than 150 members and the organization hosts an annual Labor Day Race that benefits track and cross country programs at schools in Davis, Dixon, Woodland and Vacaville. The group’s website is www.goldenvalleyharriers.org.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-320-4456.