On April 15, 2013 at 2:49 p.m. I was one block away from Boyleston Street, west of Copley Square in Boston, Massachusetts when I heard a bang and felt the earth shake. A few seconds later there was a second bang. April 15, 2013 was marathon day and for several years I have traveled with the Hartford Track to the Boston Marathon to volunteer and cheer. This year was different. Rather than spend an afternoon celebrating, we were updating Twitter and staring at the television screen trying to piece together what had happened. All the while I was on the phone, FaceBook and e-mails with reporters from Connecticut getting them information about the status of the Hartford Track Club group and about what was happening in Boston. I was later somewhat shocked to learn that my tweets and posts were the “source” for many of the reports on the bombings on Connecticut television that afternoon.

 After being detained in Boston, around 6 p.m. we were cleared to leave. We arrived home in West Hartford and were greeted by news camera and reports from all four CT new stations. It was a surreal experience being asked the same questions over and over under the bright camera lights. The entire process was somewhat of a daze. I ended up appearing on several news programs and looked very much like a deer in the headlights.  I had never previously appeared on live television and I don’t know that I made the best first impression.  I didn’t sleep much the night of the April 15, 2013, there was way too much going on in my head and I was up early the morning of the April 16, 2013 to do a series of radio interviews.  While I found all of the attention a overwhelming, I was excited to be interviewed by John Dankosky of WNPR

Once the media attention had died down, I found that I was struggling with me feelings about the event.  Like most people, I am, to a large extent, desensitized by violence.  I can listen to reports about hundreds of thousands (if not millions) dying in Syria and I can’t comprehend the loss.  Its even difficult to really be able to process events that take place closer to home.  For me, however, Boston was different.  My distance from the events could be measured in feet and I came to realize that even though I was physically unharmed, the events left a mental scar.  

I didn’t know what to “do” with my feelings about Boston.  In interviews after the Marathon, I had been asked several time whether I was going to “do” anything for the victims. I am a person who loves big ideas and I received an e-mail from Danny Bent about the One Run for Boston I knew that this was what I was going to “do.”  The One Run for Boston is the brain child of Danny Bent, Kate Treleaven and Jaime Hay, three runners from the UK who wanted to show their support for Boston.  Its a three week, 319 stage, 3300 mile relay from Los Angeles, California to Boston, Massachusetts.  In late April I signed up to lead stage 300 from Bridgeport to Milford, Connecticut.  The relay began on June 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California and wound its way through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York before making its way to Connecticut in the early after noon of June 29, 2013. 

My stage was originally scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., but it was running about 2-3 hours late.  I had the group arrive at 6 p.m.  We were a pretty diverse bunch.  There was me an Shaun, four lovely ladies from Girls Gone Miles, a married couple showing their support for Boston and  runner for Race4Chase.  Initially there was a lot of waiting and wondering when #299 would arrive to hand off the baton.  We all really wanted to run in the daylight, alas it wasn’t meant to be. 

Sitting on my phone patiently waiting for updates. 

At about 7:15 p.m. I received a text from the team leader of stage #298 letting me know that #299 was on their way.  At this point we were all ridiculously excited.  At about 8:00 the excitement started to grow as a reporter and cameraman arrived from NBC Connecticut News 30.

Leg #300 with the NBC 30 Truck.

Soon after the “stinkmobile” carrying Danny, Kate and Jaime arrived letting us know that leg #299 would soon be on its was.  I was so excited to to finally be able to meet that team that put together this fantastic event.  I’m a huge nerd and I love logistics and was amazed that three people were able to put to together this event on sheer will and creativity. 

Danny Boy Bent arriving in Bridgeport in style.

NBC interviewed several of the stage #300 runners and Danny and put together a really nice story about the event. I was happy that I got to do a good interview about Boston and the One Rune and that both Danny and I were wearing Sonic Endurance visors in the interview. 

Danny Boy being interviewed by NBC Connecticut News 30

The “Stinkmobile”, which had traveled all the way from LA

At about 9 p.m. #299 and the baton arrived safely in Baldwin Plaza in Bridgeport.  While it was almost 3.5 hours later, it is ridiculously impressive to me that after 3 weeks of running, the entire relay had only lost 200 minutes of time.  After some tearful hugs and a countdown we were off and running towards Milford. 

Hugs as the baton is handed off from #299.

Starting Stage #300.

The run itself was harder than I imagined.  Our route was about 8.5 miles but it was very warm, very humid and very dark.  We started in run in one of the more colorful neighborhoods of Bridgeport and got plenty of support from cars, motorcycles, the NBC news van that was following us an local pedestrians.  The early miles just seemed to fly right by.  We quickly arrived in Stafford and then crossed the bridge into Milford.  Once in Milford we were give a police escort from “Officer Matt from Milford” who was kind enough to literally block traffic behind us so we had a clear and open path to run on.  Me being me, while running over a bridge at about mile 5.5 I tripped and slid across the pavement on my knees and elbows.  It took me a moment to get up, regroup and realize that both my knees and elbows were now without skin.  Officer Matt offered to let me ride in the police car but the adrenaline was flowing and I really wanted to finish the leg.  While I was definitely pokey, we ticked off the miles.  Almost an hour and twenty minutes after we started we arrived at the Milford Hospital to hand off to leg #301 who would carry the baton onto New Haven. 

After the finish of #300 with Kate and Danny.

Danny and the Girls Gone Miles.

I have finished 5 Ironmans, 5 marathons and countless other triathlons and running races.  Each race is special in its own way, but this “finish” is at the very top of my list.  Every other event I have finished has been for me and about what I can do as an individual.  This finish was about what a group can accomplish when they work together.  With this finish I was able to be part of something that was bigger than myself (perhaps it could even be called “bigger on the inside”) and that was truly special.  In a lot of ways I am still processing what happened in Boston on April 15, 2013 but finishing last night really helped me in the process.

My knees, looking good as always.

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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / witsup.com writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05

1 Comment

Dan Arnold · July 1, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Kelly, great story about a truly amazing event. Congratulations on your participation. Dan Arnold

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