Two runners from the Boston Marathon are in Sunderland this weekend to take part in the Marathon of the North.
Craig Smith of the Heaton Harriers will be volunteering on the course, while Ean Parsons of Sedgefield Harriers will be running in the marathon.
Smith was in the medical tent during the bombing at the Boston Marathon and didn’t hear the two explosions because he was about a half mile away.
“I was quite oblivious of what was going on at first,” Smith said.
He first became aware that something was going on when he heard the sound of sirens and thought that it was hotter than he had originally thought it was and that they were having to bring in more people.
He didn’t find out about the explosions until the medical staff told him that they had to evacuate the area because there had been a major security incident.
“I managed to find my bag and then find my way back to my digs. So it was a very strange afternoon.”
Parsons was just leaving the family reunion area about 50 minutes after he crossed the finish line when he heard the two explosions two seconds apart.
“It crosses your mind that that’s what it is, obviously something traumatic had happened. You’re hoping it’s not going to be a bomb, but obviously the word got around quickly,” Parsons said.
Parsons knew that people were asking how the bombings would affect London and other marathons but believes that they must continue.
“We thought, this is what we do, you can’t stop people running marathons.”
Smith ran in the London Marathon after a little friendly pressure from his friends. He had an entry into the race, but never intended to run.
“The realisation that to let it go would be a sacrilege and so what I did was said I’m going to do it, it’s going to hurt, but I want to do it,” added Smith.
The Heaton Harrier wanted to raise awareness for Boston and try to raise money for the victims to “draw something positive out of a very black situation.”
And his experience in London was cathartic as he ran with a fellow runner who had been in Boston and said it helped both of them.
Smith will be volunteering on Sunday for the Marathon of the North as he believes doing three marathons in three weekends would be a bit over the top and this is another way he can give something back to the community as ‘people often take for granted all the marshals and volunteers’.
Parsons didn’t run in the London marathon because he had booked a holiday around Boston and was in Toronto at the time of the marathon.
However, he said he heard reports on how moving the atmosphere was during the minute silence and is expecting the North East running community will come together in a similar kind of atmosphere this weekend.
Parsons said: “I think, for my own point of view, because I was away after Boston, I’ll find it even more poignant to be amongst the crowd and remembering what happened on that day.”
The Marathon of the North will start at 9:30 at the Stadium of Light on Sunday and will also include a half marathon, 10k race and a relay race.