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Ten, Eleven or Fifteen mile training runs may not sound like something one does for fun, but Clark and Bedrin both say that running is a great way to clear your head and decompress. “I enjoy the independence of it,” says Clark. “Being able to clear your head and enjoy the outdoors, see different places and scenery and enjoy some fresh air. I enjoy the feeling you get.”
“You gain a certain peace,” remarks Bedrin. “I can go out and get lost in my thoughts. I think of everything and nothing on training runs. You can decompress, relax, and you gain a certain energy.”
For events like the Boston Marathon, one must qualify with a certain time at other marathons. For Bedrin, it was the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D. C. For Clark, it was the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton. Most will say, however, that there is something special about Boston. The 120-year old race has history, location, and plenty of famous points along the way. The first half is relatively flat or downhill, but the second half, Bedrin says, is where the hills come into play, especially the famous “Heartbreak Hill” at mile 21. However, he says living in NEPA, especially Mountaintop, is a training advantage for the course.
“Many routes around here are comparable to hills you face on the Boston course,” explains Bedrin. “It is a great way to prepare.”
That preparation can only take you so far, but Bedrin says that there is a certain energy that a runner can get from the crowd.
“As you get closer to the city the crowds more intense and louder so at that point, if you are suffering from fatigue, you can key in on crowd; they help immensely in getting you to the finish line.” He adds, “When you get into Boston and make the turn onto Boylston Street, that is very special. I was overcome with emotion when I saw the finish line. It was really a special moment. “
The peace and relaxation of countless training runs and the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd were not what capped the 2013 Boston Marathon for many. Both men were fortunate to have crossed the finish line prior to the explosions that rocked the area and killed three while injuring more than 150. Neither witnessed the explosions but Clark was close enough to hear them and Bedrin’s daughter started getting Facebook messages at the hotel asking if they were ok before they saw the media coverage of what had happened. Both men vowed almost immediately to return this year.
“I collapsed on the bed with emotion and was overcome,” relates Bedrin. “Just minutes earlier I had run through there and those people were there cheering for me. It was really overwhelming.”
“I had reached my goal of running the marathon on my 50th birthday so I had intended last year to be my last marathon,” says Clark. “Before the day was over I vowed that I would return.”
“The next morning as we were leaving Boston and we could see finish line we made a promise that if I could get in again, I would do it,” added Bedrin. “I felt so strongly that the marathon would continue and I was going to go back and support the city of Boston I knew right then that was the attitude of the city and all the runners.”
Return they did. Although they didn’t know each other at the time, the men had similar experiences during this year’s marathon. While the atmosphere at the marathon is always one of celebration and joy, the triumphant return of the marathon, the runners, and the city was far more palpable to everyone.
“There was a lot more people and it was a lot more emotional. Last year was a race, this year was a healing event, an emotional event. The support along the way was phenomenal and there were more people and a more special bond than ever before. We were so glad to have come and ran and they were so glad to have us back,” relates Clark.
Bedrin agrees completely. “The atmosphere this year was just incredible, one of celebration rather than fear or anxiety. If anything, people from the running community were angry and defiant that they would come back stronger than ever and it was evident in the day. There were louder, more enthusiastic crowds. Especially as you got closer to Boston, the crowd was almost deafening to get you across the finish line. The city was very much alive and from start to finish it was one massive cheering section.”
“They [the bombers] tried to use us for political gain,” adds Clark. “We wanted to take our finish line back and that’s what we did.”
While Bedrin is unsure he will run the Boston Marathon next year, Clark says he is looking to the 2014 Steamtown Marathon and a few others to qualify for 2016 in Boston. Either way, their experiences this year has left a lasting mark.
“The support and the inspiration that you get from it is hard to capture in words especially this year.” Says Bedrin who, at the time of this interview was heading out for his first run since the marathon. “I was honored and humbled to have been part of it.”