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April 21. 2013 8:31PM

Runners want to send message in 2014 Boston Marathon

A week after bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Granite State runners are already looking forward to sending a message in next year's race.

"We cannot allow ourselves to be terrorized," said William Madden of Windham. "I spent five years in the Marine Corps, it'll be really important to me to come back and have a great marathon next year."

Madden, 41, ran this year's marathon in 3 hours, 40 minutes, 14 seconds, crossing the finish line an hour before the explosions.

For Madden, a well-represented and well-attended 2014 Boston Marathon is important, not just as a response to terrorism, but also in tribute to those who died and those who were hurt, and for the people who helped them.

"There were a number of people who in a time of sudden danger ran toward the sudden danger not away from it and those people need to be commended," said Madden. "The people that are just regular citizens and not with military training and just saw an opportunity to help and didn't think of their own well-being and thought of others first, those people deserve a lot of credit."

Runner Sam Winebaum of Rye said the support from around the world following the terrorist attack in Boston is something that cannot be forgotten.

Winebaum, 56, ran the marathon in just under 4 hours.

"The marathon will come back bigger and better than ever; Boston will come back and we will see justice," Winebaum said. "We will honor the victims, honor the sport and honor the event."

Winebaum crossed the finish line 25 minutes before the first explosion.

"The horror of this thing struck a chord of disgust at these monsters and solidarity with Boston," he said. "Children were killed and injured just watching on a beautiful day, it just struck a chord."

He wants to be counted in for next year's race.

"Absolutely it has to continue - those medical people, they'll be back next year, they need to be honored with everyone else, the police, the volunteers," he said. "The marathon will be back bigger and better than ever."

Drayton Heard, 43, of Exeter, said he also looks forward to next year's run, as closure to the events of a week ago.

"I qualified for next year, I will run as a way of processing everything." Heard said.

The Boston Marathon draws people from around the world; no American has won the race in decades. Heard sees the welcoming nature of the marathon, and its spirit of competition, as a part of the American spirit that cannot be broken by two people with homemade bombs.

"It is a very generous race, just to allow people to come in and do what they want, it's very sad when you seem someone wants to destroy that," Heard said. "But we are also seeing that people are not going to succumb to the fear."

Kerry Merryfield of Mont Vernon describes herself as an athlete who is naturally drawn to athletic competition.

Last week was her first Boston Marathon, although she has run 26.2 mile road races.

She finally decided to run the BAA event, even though its urban terrain wasn't exactly her style, and found that there is truth in what runners say about it being a special event.

"I love the country roads, I don't tend to go for the glam stuff," she said. "Running it, I got it; there is a special spirit about the race, I felt really, really elated, overjoyed."

Thirteen minutes after she crossed the finish line, the joy ended as the first bomb exploded.

"Everything right now is still so raw," Merryfield said. "Everyone went into action, I saw calm, swift, helpful response."

Merryfield's family was in Boston to watch her run. She had planned to go alone, but after her daughter learned more about the race, it became a family event.

"She said 'This is the coolest thing,' she saw the female runner with the olive wreath," Merryfield said.

A short time later the "coolest thing" was replaced with terror.

Within the terror, Merryfield saw light.

"Everybody that I saw were people trying to do the right thing, I saw people moving out of the way, I saw people moving things out of the way of the ambulances, I saw people helping each other, we knew enough about the city to give our maps to other people," she said. "It's one of the things I love about our country."

Merryfield wants to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon, but must qualify again.

She sees next year's race as an event that will make a statement reinforcing the spirit she saw on Patriots' Day.

"You don't expect it, you don't want to be a participant in anything that's evil and the fact that the community outside is echoing that we don't tolerate this is helpful," Merryfield said. "I have no doubt that the event will come back, there will be runners and spectators in the same proportions, if not more."

Exeter's Heard says he comes away from the events of last week knowing that the response of the runners, volunteers and community show how the American response is to become stronger.

"I am an American," he said. "That's the beauty of who we are regardless of where we come from, whether we are first or second generation Americans, we do stand by each other."

bsmith@unionleader.com


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