Top age-group triathlete and former bog-snorkelling triathlon world champion Danny Bent talks us through a 3,300-mile cross-country relay to raise funds for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing
The famed last two turns of the Boston Marathon. The screaming of the lactic acid in your legs is drowned out by the crowd screaming with joy as you come to the last two hundred meters of the Boston Marathon. The supporters fill every gap on the sidewalk on Boylston Street, ten deep at points. You are almost there; it’s almost time to throw your hands in the air to celebrate. One more push, one more surge, one more cry from the crowd…
Then an angry metallic sound rings out and how quickly life changes…
Four people lost their lives as a result of the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. A further 265 were injured. But what these statistics don’t show are the millions of runners across the world that felt the impact of those blasts and were left with feelings of guilt, anger, terror and helplessness. With each blast, a small amount of life was stolen from every person who watched the scene unfold either as a bystander, or via their TV, radio or Social Media.
On April 15 2013 I was dancing round my kitchen in Devon to Daft Punk with my friend, Jamie, while another friend, Kate, scoured Facebook for pictures of grumpy cats. Suddenly Kate exclaims, “They’ve bombed the Boston Marathon.”
Watching the news unfold on Facebook as rain pattered on my roof, Kate, Jamie and I decided we had to do something to help to show our solidarity to the people caught up in the blast. But, without knowing anyone in the United States, how could we? Within a week we concocted an impossible plan to orchestrate the first ever cross-country running relay to raise funds to help the victims.
Through lightning, deserts and floods
Supporting the runners in our vehicle, that got dubbed the Stink Mobile, Kate and I set off from Venice Beach, California, on June 7, heading 3,300 miles east towards Boston, without knowing whether we would succeed and without any idea how much this simple idea would touch people’s souls.
Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 2,000 runners ran through lightning storms, floods, and inhospitable deserts during record heat waves. Carrying a baton affectionately called Miles through 14 states and crossing five times zones.
In the early hours of 1st July, hundreds of rain soaked runners brought traffic to a standstill as they turned right on Hereford and left on Boylston. Nicole Reis was one of may who failed to finish the marathon due to the bombings, pushed the wheelchair of her father towards the finishing line on Boylston Street. Recently out of hospital after six weeks of surgeries, John Odom, a victim of the first blast, held the baton aloft as he crossed over the blue and yellow sign that is the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
The finish line that was stolen from so many had been reclaimed as their own.
One Run For Boston raised just under $100,000 dollars for the victims but there is still more money needed to replace prosthetic limbs, make alterations to housing and provide therapy to those affected.
In March 2014 Danny, Kate and Jamie are orchestrating One Run For Boston 2. Hoping to raise $1,000,000 this time. It would be wonderful if some more Brits travelled out to America to join Danny and to show support from the UK running population. Stages are available from 1st January 2014 at www.onerunforboston.org.