For one local runner, his inclusion in the Boston Marathon on Monday marked a significant event.
It has been more than a year since the bombing took place near the finish line in 2013, but that attack did not derail the goals of Murphys resident John Hieb.
He ran for himself, but also for the city of Boston in its attempt to heal from that devastating attack.
“It was very inspiring,” Hieb said by phone on Tuesday. “I learned early on when I became a part of the running community that there’s just a lot of great folks that are part of it. It doesn’t matter what political party you’re affiliated with, everybody is focused on running and bettering their times and just being a part of the marathons, especially this one. It was a lot of fun.”
After crossing the finish line at 3 hours, 51 minutes and 9 seconds, the 64-year-old Hieb had his medal specially engraved by a local jeweler free of charge.
The words he chose were “Boston Strong” and “Runners Won.”
“That kind of seemed to be the theme of the marathon,” Hieb said. “It seemed like we were a part of bringing this thing back and making the marathon stronger than ever.”
A year after the bombings claimed the life of three people and wounded hundreds of others according to the New York Times, Hieb noticed the local law enforcement presence around the 26.2-mile course.
“Along the race, I saw quite a number of police officers, but not a huge number,” Hieb said. “But at the finish line, the police were in groups of four or five. You rarely ever saw a single officer. They were prepared. You just saw groups of them.”
Hieb didn’t reach his goal of setting a new personal best time. After running over a challenging Heartbreak Hill, about 20 miles into the race, he would soon hit what runners like to call The Wall.
“It’s a fairly long hill,” Hieb said. “They’re all long and especially the last one. It takes a lot out of your energy, but I was running at a pretty good pace after the hill. It was three or four miles of flat land, that’s when I found out the hill took a toll on me. My legs just basically cramped up.”
But with the Boston Strong and Runners Won mindset entrenched into his mind, there was no doubt Hieb was not going to complete the marathon.
“I was able to run on in, but I was going pretty slow the last 300 yards or so,” Hieb said. “It was a great thing to see the finish line and all the excitement. There were thousands of people at the finish line. It was great.”
Another local runner, Vallecito resident Kathy Farley, 47, came in at 3 hours, 34 minutes and 33 seconds. The Bret Harte High School science teacher had a pace of8:11 per mile.
Hieb has already qualified for next year’s Boston Marathon and will run alongside his daughter Lisa Hieb-Stock.
“That’ll be even more fun,” Hieb said. “Even though this was kind of a special one, but running with your child is just fun. I know how hard she had to work to get there. It’s worth it when you get to it. The whole experience. The build up to it. I’m already thinking about next year."