April 21, 2013
On Friday night, Bill Rodgers was in Roanoke, Va., getting ready to run a marathon relay with Frank Shorter Saturday.
Dick Beardsley was looking out the window at a foot of snow in Minnesota, preparing to give a speech at a fundraiser to help people fight drug and alcohol abuse.
But Boston, and Monday's bombing at the finish line of the marathon, were on both men's minds. How could they not be?
"I was not there at the finish line," said Rodgers, the iconic four-time Boston Marathon winner who grew up in Newington. "But my daughter was. [His brother] Charlie was near there."
"It's the first time in 15-20 years that I haven't been there," said Beardsley, whose most famous Boston moment came in 1982 when he finished second to Alberto Salazar in the "Duel in the Sun."
"Normally, I go out and do something with New Balance. Many times, my wife, Jill, and I have been on that spot. The BAA gives our charity [The Dick Beardsley Foundation] runners numbers and we are out to watch them. One of our guys was a half-mile from the finish when it went off."
Both runners were horrified and stunned at the blow to their sport and the world's most prestigious marathon. But like many, they were both resolved and plan to run the 118th Boston Marathon next Patriots' Day.
"I think what's come out of the evil here, the misguidedness of these two young guys, is that runners all feel more of a connection than ever before," Rodgers said. "I think Boston will be stronger than ever. I'm going to try to convince Frank to run Boston." Shorter was in Boston Monday, working as a TV commentator. When the bombs went off, he was close to the finish line, according to the Daily Camera.
Even Bill's brother Charlie, who worked in the Bill Rodgers Running Center store in Boston for years but has surprisingly never run a marathon, is talking about running Boston next year, Bill said.
Beardsley, who lives in Austin, Texas, will be there, too.
"My plan is to be on the starting line with my wife, Jill, next year, to celebrate life, and Boston," Beardsley said. "She hasn't run a marathon in eight or nine years. [The bombing] is not going to keep us from going out and doing it."
Beardsley, who was the honorary chairman of the Manchester Road Race in 2009, hasn't run a marathon in five years. He had a knee replacement a few years ago but has been running regularly and planned to run Boston last year. While training, he fell and fractured a kneecap. Once that healed, he decided to start training for another marathon, in Napa Valley, in March. But he tweaked his hamstring 10 days before the race and had to sit out.
"It's a bugger getting old," said Beardsley, 57. "But I'll be there next year, if I have to do the darn thing on crutches."
Beardsley spoke of opening Boston next year to more runners, like the race organizers did for the 100th running in 1996 when 40,000 were allowed to run the venerable course from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. The race, for which runners must qualify or run for a charity, was capped at 27,000 runners this year.
"They ought to have 40,000 runners celebrating what life's all about," Beardsley said.
In the past week, Rodgers and Beardsley have been asked many questions about what happened in Boston Monday. That will only intensify next weekend when the two runners meet in Oklahoma City for appearances at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, which started after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people. It's a touching, emotional event, made more so this year by the events of the past week.
"I've been there every year except the first year," Beardsley said. "It's my 11th year. It's Bill's 11th year. To be going there next week after all this happened … it's going to be surreal to be out there."
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