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Five years later, Boston Marathon tragedy doesn't stop runners

By ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader

April 15. 2018 3:57AM
Passersby pause at a memorial for victims at the site of the first explosion in the Boston Marathon bombings, one day before the 5th anniversary of the blasts, in Boston April 14, 2018. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)



The elation Kathy Jaworski felt after crossing the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013, quickly turned to confusion.

The lifelong Manchester resident had just set what is still a personal-best course time of around 3 hours, 50 minutes. After finishing her second Boston Marathon, Jaworski went to grab a water bottle.

Then she heard the first bomb explode.

"At first, I thought it was somebody in the crowd celebrating," Jaworski said. "I quickly heard a police officer say, 'You need permission to do that on Patriots' Day.' Immediately, the thing was going on."

Jaworski, 55, is a member of the Greater Manchester Running Club. A number of her fellow members had already finished the race that day and were at the Four Seasons Hotel bar on Boylston Street. Peter Madden, 54, was sitting at the bar when Jaworski and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig, another club member, came in and said they thought something had happened.

"I was done an hour before it happened," Madden said. "They came in and after that the TVs came on in the lounge showing the explosions. We were safe where we were but we didn't realize the gravity of the situation."

After informing their loved ones they were OK and gathering the other members who had run that day, Jaworski, Madden and Craig reached the garage where they had parked and drove home.

"Going on the Zakim Bridge headed north, you could see a caravan of state troopers and state police coming in - 20 or 30 of them - going toward Boston Common," said Madden, who grew up in Conway and now lives in Manchester. "The severity was starting to take hold."

Former Hillsborough County Attorney Peter McDonough, 76, had reached Boston College when the race stopped that day. The Manchester resident and his fellow runners at that part of the course were ushered by police into one the college's chapels, where they stayed for a couple of hours, McDonough said.

"Everybody just was well-behaved and stat tight and waited," McDonough said. "It was a very different experience, no question about that."

After the bombing, Jaworski thought she'd never run Boston again. It took awhile before she changed her mind.

"It became a point of going back to show that someone is not going to ruin that for me," Jaworski said.

This year will be Jaworski's seventh consecutive Boston Marathon. For Madden, it will be his 23rd straight. McDonough has run the race every year since 1985 and will be in the field Monday.

"I appreciate and am lucky to be able to keep going and keep running here," Madden said.

When she turned the corner for the last leg of the race in 2014, Jaworski was afraid. She started to wonder if a bomb would go off. Jaworski has not had that feeling since then, however. Her focus at that point in the race in recent years has solely been on willing herself to the finish line.

Jaworski is dedicating her race this year to her mother, Geraldine O'Connor, who recently passed away. O'Connor was always proud whenever Jaworski ran a marathon.

"It's a great race and if this is my last one, I'll walk away happy and know it's a gift to do this," Jaworski said.

ahall@unionleader.com


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