Runners triumphantly Boston-bound
Okotoks: Athletes determined to not let bombing stop historic race
Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014 06:00 am
Three Okotoks area runners are returning to Boston one year after terrorist explosions at the finish line of the world’s most famous marathon.
One runner is going to finish, the other to celebrate and the third one to put 2013 behind her when she runs the Boston Marathon this Monday.
Gloria Boucher was all smiles when she crossed the finish line in a time of three hours and 19 minutes at Boston on April 15, 2013. However, those smiles turned to tears a short-time thereafter when the bombs exploded, which killed three people and left many spectators and runners injured.
“This will be my third time and my last time there,” said Boucher, 47. “It’s time for a change — I have experienced it all at Boston.”
Boucher’s time of 3:19:00 was a personal best, however when the bombs exploded, she had yet to connect with her sister Connie who was cheering her on at the finish line.
“She was at the finish line and was amongst all the chaos and she had not seen me cross,” Boucher said. “She went looking for me and finally left when the police told everyone to clear the area. I was waiting outside our hotel room because she had the key.... It was a happy reunion.”
Gloria and her sister are returning to Boston. They don’t want a terrorist act to be their last impression of Beantown.
“She told me I have to leave Boston with a good feeling, not a bad feeling,” Boucher said.
It was a hard year for Boucher. She suffered extensive flood damage at her then residence near High River in June. Then on Dec. 19, her mother, Maria Boucher, died from cancer.
“I am running for her,” Boucher said. “I want to do it because of what I went through last year and to honour the people and the families in Boston.”
Black Diamond’s Erna Ference has put on a lot of kilometres in training for both the 2013 and ’14 Boston Marathon.
However, there was about 800 metres more that she wished she put in.
Ference was a bit more than 800 metres when the bomb exploded last April.
“I want to finish it this time,” the 54-year-old Ference said. “I was about five minutes out from finishing when they stopped us.”
Finishing isn’t the only reason she is going back.
“It’s just nice to affirm that they haven’t got the best of us. To rally together with other runners.”
Laura Roberts, 51, crossed the finish line in a time of four hours and five minutes last year. However, it was a short celebration. The bomb exploded within 90 seconds after she had finished.
“It is important for me to go back because I missed the celebration last year,” she said. “I want to celebrate this year.”
She echoed Ference and Boucher in saying a terrorist act cannot stop the historical race or the spirit of runners.
“You can’t let the bad guys win,” Roberts said. “They are not going to make me afraid to run a marathon in Boston.
“I am going to do it.”
The runners did not have to re-qualify for Boston due to the tragedy.
However, Roberts did have to write a 250-word essay explaining why she wanted to run the marathon again.
“I told them I was robbed of my celebration,” Roberts said. “I told them I would like to have smiling faces and people congratulating me and to celebrate with Boston.”
She will celebrate with her husband, Cliff, who was waiting for his wife to finish last year.
“I’ve been training hard and I am looking forward to it,” she said.
All three runners said they are not concerned about another bombing as extensive precautions have been taken. For more information on the 2014 Boston Marathon go to baa.org.