Niles runners return to Boston Marathon
Published 9:11 am Friday, April 18, 2014
Charles Archer can only imagine what it will feel like when he runs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon where two bombs went off a year ago killing three and injuring hundreds more.
“I’m not usually an emotional person, but I expect it will be very emotional,” said the 65-year-old Niles resident who ran in last year’s race, but was unable to finish because of the bombings. “On the day before the race, I stood right where the bombs went off and I can, in some way, put myself in the place of those people innocently standing there cheering on the runners. I think about that and how, in an instant, their lives were changed forever.”
Archer is one of at least five Niles residents signed up to run in Monday’s Boston Marathon, including Tracy Eaves, who also ran in last year’s race.
Eaves was near the finish line when it happened. She was far enough away that she was uninjured, but close enough to feel the explosion.
“You could feel the boom — it was huge,” she said. “I turned around and saw a huge cloud of dark smoke rising up two to three stories high.”
With the initial shock of event still fresh in her mind, Eaves told the Daily Star last year that the bombings might give her pause to return.
As the weeks went by, she said she felt a need to return for her fourth Boston Marathon.
“This year is not about running a marathon,” she said. “The point is to go back together and stomp your foot and put up your fist and say, ‘I’m back. No one is going to take this away from me.’”
Archer made up his mind to return before leaving Boston and reserved a hotel just weeks after the race. It will be his fifth.
“I felt like it was unfinished as far as the race was concerned,” he said. “Also, like a lot of people, I want to make a statement to individuals who would want to disrupt an event that they won’t influence my decision to run again here in Boston or at any other race.”
Archer was about a 1/2 mile from the finish line when the race was stopped. Although he didn’t know it at the time, a photographer from Sports Illustrated captured an image of him and thousands of others all standing on the course.
“As it turned out I was at the very bottom of the picture,” he said. “I keep it to remind me of the event and to always keep working forward.”
Like Archer, Eaves is looking forward to finishing the race on what she believes will be a historic day.
“In my mind it is almost like a feeling of strength and empowerment when I think about going down that road and actually clearing it,” she said. “I think about the way the city bounced back and the runners and everybody else. It is almost a feeling of. ‘We’ve got past this.’ It is not just a running accomplishment, but a statement.”