Local runners prepare for Boston Marathon

Mission Hill runners training for the April 19 Boston Marathon, the first since last year’s infamous terrorist bombing, told the Gazette they know this one is special.

David Weinstock, a doctor and scientist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and who will be running to raise funds for it, ran the Boston Marathon last year. He crossed the finish line about 90 seconds before the first bomb went off, he told the Gazette.

“Based on my experience last year, I can’t not experience running it this year,” he said. “It was terrible, but it was also wonderful in a way. There were lots of people out there being helpful. Like Mister Rogers said, ‘Look for the helpers.’”

Michael Sullivan, who is an ASL interpreter at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, will run his very first marathon this month, a bonding experience with his soon-to-be husband, Jerel Calzo, who is a research scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an instructor in pediatrics at the Harvard School of Medicine.

Sullivan and their daughter, Cora, were cheering for Calzo when the bombs went off. Calzo was at Commonwealth and Massachusetts avenues when it happened, very near the finish line at the time, having covered 25.8 of the 26.2 miles. They couldn’t find each other for over two hours.

“Shortly after this experience I decided to start running myself. I when the opportunity came up to run Boston, I had to go for it,” Sullivan told the Gazette.

Sharing the experience of coming close to finishing but being interrupted keeps his running group motivated, Calzo said.

“People are even more supportive than they were before,” he said.

And even though they haven’t been able to train together due to their different abilities—Calzo is a longtime runner and this is Sullivan’s first marathon—work schedules and childcare responsibilities, they are both very excited to run together, they said.

“It’s definitely been a shared experience,” Calzo said.

Sullivan and Calzo plan to be married in June.

Kelli O’Laughlin, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), will also be running this year’s Boston Marathon, her first long race since college. While she did not qualify based on her running time, she wrote an essay to the organizers and asked to be allowed because she was working at BWH’s emergency department last year.

“I’ve always had ‘running the Boston Marathon’ as a life goal. I was there watching with my family last year. I was back in my office when the attack happened, so I was able to go in and work,” she told the Gazette.

The opportunity to run despite not qualifying has “inspired” her, she said.

“I remember people saying that the marathon would never be the same,” she said. “But I think it will be a time for Bostonians to show up, cheer and work together. And I want to be a part of that.”

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