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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1968 Boston Marathon Winner Stopped Short By Bombing

Ambrose Burfoot, center, a Wesleyan University senior from Groton, Ct., winner of the 72nd annual B.A.A. Marathon is congratulated by Johnny Kelley, left, also of Groton, after finishing 15th, and John Kelley, of Watertown, Mass., in the dressing room in Boston, April 19, 1968. (AP)

Ambrose Burfoot, center, a Wesleyan University senior from Groton, Ct., winner of the 72nd annual B.A.A. Marathon is congratulated by Johnny Kelley, left, also of Groton, after finishing 15th, and John Kelley, of Watertown, Mass., in the dressing room in Boston, April 19, 1968. (AP)

Amby Burfoot is among the thousands of runners who didn’t get to finish the Boston Marathon on Monday, because of the deadly explosions near the finish line, which killed three people and injured more than 170.

Burfoot, a longtime editor at Runner’s World magazine, was running to mark the 45th anniversary of a very special day: April 19, 1968, when he won the 72nd annual Boston Marathon.

“I can’t tell you how many runners have already put the Boston Marathon for next year on their list.”
– Amby Burfoot

“I’m chagrined to say now that we were about a half mile from the finish and we were just starting our celebration,” Burfoot recalled. “And that’s when the road suddenly closed in front of us. And you know personally you feel deprived for a moment of your chance to reach the finish line. And then slowly through the confusion the real story reaches you, and you just feel tremendous sadness that this happened to all of us.”

He says that the Boston Marathon is a parade more than a sporting event, tied to the great American traditions of holiday parades and political protests.

“It’s part of the story of this country,” Burfoot said, “And the Boston Common is just beyond the finish line. And it’s about the right of Americans to peacefully assemble, and that was what was so rudely interrupted on Monday.”

Burfoot hopes the Runner’s World issue about the marathon will try to “paint as full a picture as possible,” one that recognizes the great tragedy that happened, but also notes the great triumphs.

Burfoot says he saw more military veterans running on prostheses than ever before, and noted the crowds were the biggest he has seen.

He’s also optimistic for the future of the Boston Marathon.

“I can’t tell you how many runners have already put the Boston Marathon for next year on their list. This race will be bigger than the 100th in 1996.”

He predicts that the crowds next year will also be bigger, and that the runners will be here “not to kiss the co-eds at Wellesley or challenge Heartbreak Hill, but to thank the citizens of Boston for all their strength and support through the years.”

Guest:

  • Amby Burfoot, editor-at-large at Runner’s World and winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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