Boston Marathon 2014

Runners with local ties help ‘take back’ Boston Marathon

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 8:45am

Like other entrants in the Boston Marathon on April 21, runners with ties to Wiscasset and the Boothbay peninsula have different reasons for taking part: They're honoring a friend's memory, raising money for charity or, in the case of Grace West, daughter of Wiscasset resident Greg Foster, it will be her chance to cross the finish line she was six-tenths of a mile from when the bombs went off.

“I feel like I have some unfinished business,” she said.

But West and others interviewed also have some reasons in common. They said they want to honor the city of Boston, and show resilience to terrorism.

Southport's Robert McArtor, 75, was watching events unfold on television after last year's bombings when he told his wife Linda, he didn't know how he was going to do it, but he was going to find a way to run in the marathon in 2014.

“There's a part of me that doesn't want to give in to terrorism,” said the physician, a Southport resident since 1996.

McArtor wasn't starting from scratch. He ran in the 1995 Boston Marathon, one of 16 marathons he's been in since he took them up at the age of 53. Now he does triathlons, which combine swimming, biking and marathon running.

When he was seeking a slot for this year's Boston Marathon, he found one on a team raising money for a Boston cause called Tenacity. It aids at-risk students through tutoring, mentoring and even a tennis program, he said.

The more he learned about the cause, the more it impressed him, he said. “It caught my attention and my heart,” he said.

He has also been impressed by the security measures marathon organizers are taking. He said of last year's bombings and the death and injury they caused, “It'll be on everybody's mind who's there, but it's not a deterrent.”

McArtor said besides the show of support for Boston, and now his fundraising for Tenacity, he's also running in memory of colleague, friend and fellow marathon runner, Dr. Bob Fernandez. The Boston native, who worked at Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford, died unexpectedly last fall, McArtor said.

Another entrant in next week’s race, Emily LeVan, lived in Wiscasset when she was the Boston Marathon's top U.S. female finisher in 2005 and again in 2006.

Her priorities changed when her daughter Maddie, then 3, was diagnosed with cancer. Wiscasset and the rest of the state showed their support by raising more than $70,000 for the Maine Children's Cancer Program. Maddie's 10 now, and in remission.

The way Wiscasset came together as a community is emblematic of Boston's experience over the past year, said LeVan, now a nurse practitioner living in Randolph Center, Vt.

Her last time running in Boston was at the 2008 Olympic trials. This year's Boston Marathon will be about her sixth time in the event. “It's great, it's my favorite race, so it holds a special place in my heart.

“When the bombings happened, I just got inspired to come back and run,” she said.

When West, of Massachusetts, raced last year, it was her first marathon. Her run raised more than $5,000 for America SCORES Boston, which, like McArtor's cause this year, benefits at-risk children.

This year, she's sponsoring a runner for the Alzheimer's Association, in memory of her mother and in honor of her mother's sisters, she said.

West, 37, a stay-at-home mother of two young sons, will be one of more than 5,000 entrants whose races last year were halted after the bombs went off.

“I want to finish, and I want to do it for what the race stands for. It's important to show resilience and not let the marathon be ruined.

“This can take back what it has been and not let it be stolen by what happened last year.”