Tag: bombing

Gut Reaction

I first learned of Dan Harper’s “eventful” run late last April in the same way most important information is presented today: via a Facebook status update. My gut reaction to that was one of outrage. Stepping back to think about it gave way to a new perspective, one of more understanding. Putting myself in the position of the law enforcement officials in town at that time and I can see how patience would be wearing thin and everyone would be eager to just ‘get the guy’ and put an end to what turned out to be an insane couple of days.

From the moment the bombs went off on Boylston St, the police were on high alert and sleep was probably an afterthought. By the time the shootout and intense manhunt of Thursday night/Friday morning came around, it’s probably not too much of a stretch to say that emotion, frustration and exhaustion were all running equally high.

On this website we cover running news, results, training, etc., but another thing we do is give runners a platform to share their story. Reading about what strange things may happen to a runner over the course of a run usually makes for an interesting story. Well, this is the ultimate shit that happened to me on my run story.

It’d be easy to sit here and say ‘well this could’ve been handled differently’, etc., but that’s not what this is ultimately about. If we say we understand that there were extenuating circumstances then we can’t sit here and pick apart the way the cops behaved in detaining Dan. That just wouldn’t be cutting them any slack.

Another topic that we discussed was doing a side by side shot of Dan and the suspect. After giving it much thought, we decided we did not want to have that coward’s picture on our website. Instead we opted to go with some pics of Dan (most of which were taken at the spot of the encounter) and a link to a photo of the suspect. Do they look alike? Well, that’s up to you to decide. Maybe now that so much time has passed you may not see so much resemblance. But when you’re stationed out on the streets in Boston during a manhunt it’s probably a different story.

We’ve been in communication with Dan now for almost a year, talking about what happened and developing this story. Can’t stress enough how it’s all about just telling the story here how it happened. Through various conversations with Dan it’s been plain to see that he harbors no ill will nor does he hold any grudges over what happened. It was certainly an extraordinary circumstance, and fortunately nothing came of it other than a 45 minute break in the middle of his run.

From a runner’s perspective, it flat out sucks to be forced to stop and wait because of things like bad drivers, clueless pedestrians and obnoxious cyclists. But to be stopped, handcuffed, searched and questioned for 45 minutes mid-run because of some act perpetrated by a couple of assholes? That is a whole new level of absurdity. But ultimately it boiled down to a pretty good story about what happened during one crazy run that Dan gets to tell.

Most importantly, the joint efforts of local and federal officials resulted in them getting the guy later that day, and now justice can be served.

If you haven’t read Dan’s story, then click here to check it out: Suspect On The Run

Suspect On The Run

One BAA runner’s nerve-wracking experience during a run in the midst of the manhunt for the second Boston Marathon bomber

Editor’s note: The following is a first-person account from Dan Harper, who was detained by law enforcement officials in Boston on the morning of Friday, April 19, 2013. We share our thoughts on it in a subsequent post.

By Dan Harper

I awoke to the sound of police sirens coming from my living room. Realizing immediately that this was the sound of my television, I pulled a blanket over my head, re-adjusted my sleeping position, and attempted to fall back asleep. I did not know what time it was, but the absence of light coming through my windows told me that I still had at least a few more hours before I had to run.

Normally, falling back asleep would not have been a problem. As a serious high-mileage runner, I could quite literally fall asleep on command at a moment’s notice during any given twenty-four hour period. Today, however, was an exception. The Boston Marathon had been bombed four days prior and the city’s occupants, myself included, were on edge. After only a few seconds of lying in bed listening to the television, it became clear to me that one of my roommates had turned on the local news broadcast. For the television to be on at such an odd hour meant that something of significance was happening. Perhaps police had tracked down the bombing suspects. Maybe the evil-doers were even in custody. My weariness quickly faded and was replaced with curiosity. I slipped out of bed and sat myself in front of the television. My roommate and I watched with anticipation.

The broadcast informed us that an MIT police officer had been gunned down and that police had chased the criminals into Watertown where a shootout occurred. We also learned that the gunmen were still at-large and considered extremely dangerous. It remained unknown at that time whether or not this incident had any connection at all to the Marathon Bombings. To us, it felt like the world (or at least the city of Boston) could be coming to an end.

I spent a few more minutes immersed in the news coverage on television, waiting for new information to be released. As soon as I realized that I had all the facts I was going to get until something new happened, I returned to my room and attempted to get a few more precious hours of sleep before sunrise. Needless to say, I had difficulty sleeping as my mind was racing trying to make sense of the week’s tragedies.

At precisely 5:55 a.m. I awoke again-this time to my alarm. Right away, I was out of bed readying myself for the 13 miles I had planned for the morning. My phone’s weather application reported the temperature as 52°F, which meant that it was warm enough to run shirtless. The first few minutes would be a bit chilly, but the rest of the run would be quite comfortable. For better or for worse, the thought of skipping my run for safety reasons never even crossed my mind. As with most veteran runners, I had conditioned myself long ago to stop excuses before they even have a chance to manifest as thought. I was, however, aware that the general vicinity of Watertown could potentially be dangerous, so I opted out of my usual Fresh Pond Friday route in favor of traveling into Boston. I was confident the city would be safe by virtue of the elevated police and military presence that had been established there since Monday.

Sporting only shoes and a pair of solid orange running shorts, I was out the door by 6:40 a.m. My apartment is close to Inman Square, so my route began with a straight-shot down Hampshire Street and into Boston via the Longfellow Bridge. The route, which I adopted from my undergraduate days at MIT, gets progressively more complicated and eventually finds its way along the Harborwalk at Rowes Wharf in Boston’s Waterfront neighborhood. By the time I reached this landmark, nothing unusual had happened. I had even spotted other runners out for their morning toil just as I was. The city was definitely quiet, but not to the point of concern.

After the route weaves back and forth along each dock, it takes a sharp left onto Northern Avenue’s footbridge and passes in front of the Moakley Courthouse. As I veered left to take that turn, I looked up and saw a police officer standing directly in my way. ”This bridge is closed, you’re gonna have to go around,” he said. I slowed my pace and pointed to the next bridge over asking him if I could use that one instead. He paused in thought for a moment before telling me that I’d be better off avoiding the general direction of the courthouse altogether. Later, I would learn that a suspicious package had been found near the courthouse minutes before my arrival. Not particularly pleased nor bothered by this sudden change of plans, I turned right, heading toward Atlantic Avenue when the police officer shouted back to me in afterthought: “Hey, you kinda look like that guy we’re looking for.” His tone was playful and my response was a quick chuckle followed by, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Neither the gravity of the officer’s statement, nor the truth behind it had any time to sink in, as no more than six strides later, the policeman’s partner took one up-close look at me and said, firmly, ”Hold up, son. You look like that guy we’re after.” Without hesitation, I stopped my watch and halted to a stop. The tone of his voice and the look in his eye told me that he meant business.

[Editor's note: Does he look like the guy? You be the judge.]

“Who are you?” the officer inquired. I noticed the first officer walking over to where we were standing. “And what are you doing here?” He sounded confrontational, but also genuinely confused. I answered both questions succinctly. When the first officer caught up to us, he repeated the same questions, which I answered with the same, word-for-word response: “My name is Dan Harper and I’m in the middle of a run.” The second officer furrowed his brow and continued to stare me up and down. I knew then that my answer, although honest, would not be enough to relieve me of this predicament. The two policemen gave each other a familiar look and then turned to me. ”Sir, we’re gonna have to ask you to turn around and put your hands behind your back.”

Now in handcuffs, I was largely at their mercy. They asked me question after question. Most had simple, one or two word answers. I gave them my age, birthdate, ethnicity, address, occupation, parent’s names, country of citizenship, and more, including an explanation as to why I was half-naked. Between questions, I could hear them radioing-in, alerting nearby officers that they had a person of interest in detainment. Seeing what must have been a mild look of confusion on my face, one of them asked, “You know why we’ve stopped you, right?” I nodded and told them that I was aware of sharing what could be considered a loose resemblance to one of the marathon bombing suspects. Several pictures of the two individuals had been released the night before and apart from Suspect 2′s overly-pronounced nose, I could not fully deny a physical likeness. Attempting to draw the officer’s attention to the normalness of my own nose, I turned my facial profile at a ninety-degree angle and commented on how remarkably different my nose was from that of the real bomber. In response, the officer removed a piece of paper from his pocket and showed it to me. It was a headshot of a younger Suspect 2. I had not seen this particular photograph before as it had not yet been released to the public. As soon as I saw it, my eyes widened. If my mother showed me that picture, claiming that it was taken of me six years ago, I probably would have believed her. It was then that I realized the officer who stopped me may not just be following a circumspect protocol-he may genuinely believe that I was the bomber. The accusatory look in his eyes revealed this to be true.

Less than five minutes had passed before the police presence in that small parking lot increased from two officers and a squad car to more than 10 officers and several squad cars. After the two original officers had exhausted their standard barrage of questions, they brought me over to the center of the space and positioned me between two police cars. The first officer asked me if I had any weapons as he pried my shoes off and poked his hand around the inside of my shorts. A bomb-sniffing dog was told to investigate, eventually reassuring the officers that I had not recently handled any explosives. Another officer held up his phone and told me to look directly at its camera. As he was taking the picture, I noticed several other officers pull out their phones to do the same. ”Great,” I thought to myself. “My mugshot is now all over the police force intraweb.” After the photo shoot, I was ordered to sit tight in the back of a police car. There I sat as groups of policemen with various department affiliations flocked to the scene. I can recall seeing members of the Boston Police Department, Cambridge Police Department, Massachusetts State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Military. They were talking, pointing, shaking their heads, and speaking into cell phones. Periodically, the car door would open, at which point I would be told to look into several more cameras and answer another few sets of already-answered questions. I began to wonder how long they would keep me handcuffed in the back of this police car.

At one point, a rather plump officer opened the door. He looked at me distrustingly and started asking me the same old set of questions that I had been asked almost non-stop for the past 20 minutes. When he got to the, “So what were you doing out here” question, he leaned back against a squad car, preparing himself for an amusing cover-up story. I did not disappoint. “I was out running before work,” I said. The officer looked puzzled. “And where were you running from?” he asked.

“Somerville? That’s really far away!” he exclaimed. ”How far is that?”
“Uh, probably about five miles.”
The policeman chuckled. “So you mean to tell me that you just ran five miles all the way from Somerville and you’re not even sweating?”
“That’s a load of bullshit.”

I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond. This officer clearly had no knowledge of what it meant to be a competitive runner. I tried to enlighten him: “Well you see, sir, when it’s fifty degrees out and you’re running without a shirt, your body doesn’t need to sweat because it’s already cool enough. On top of that, I wasn’t running fast today.” He shook his head a few times and closed the door to the police car. I saw him turn to his fellow officers and I put my head against the car window so that I could listen in on their conversation: “He said he just ran five miles,” the chubby officer submitted to the group.
“Five miles?”
“Yeah, five miles all the way from Somerville.”
“But he isn’t even sweating,” said another.
“I know, his story isn’t making any sense.”

Now, I am well aware that the elite running community is not nearly as well understood to the general public as, say, the football community, but this was ridiculous. Using my elbows to knock against the car window, I tried to draw their attention. Perhaps they didn’t have enough information to believe that I was actually a runner. When they opened the door, I told them that I was no jogger. I was a serious runner who ran an average of 22 miles each day and that I was an Olympic Trials hopeful for the marathon. I mentioned my membership in the Boston Athletic Association running club and even commented on the irony of mistaking a BAA runner for the bomber. “In fact,” I continued. “I just ran in the BAA 5k on Sunday. You can look up the results!” Although relevant, none of this new information made a difference. The officer was still fixated on the fact that I had just run five miles without sweating. He folded his arms. “If you ran all the way from Somerville, then you should be able to tell us exactly how you got here,” he challenged.
“You mean you want to know my route?” I asked. The paradox of describing a run to someone who was so far removed from the activity amused me. Rarely do team-specific runs make their way into other running groups, let alone the general public. This could be my chance to give one of my undergraduate runs, Docks, eternal fame.

Click here for the conclusion of Suspect On The Run

Memorial Bridge In The News

Tom Derderian‘s proposed memorial footbridge is gaining some attention and hopefully some momentum. The bridge would replace an old, unpleasant looking footbridge and serve to honor the memory of those who lost their lives or were injured during the marathon bombing (and ensuing manhunt).

We’re a couple of days late to this party (although we did first post about it back in May), but there is some benefit to trailing in a case like this. As the story fades in the various social media news feeds, it can only help to bring it right back to the spotlight and get people talking about it again. So we hope to sort of consolidate some information/links here and get people talking about it again.

In case you missed it, here’s Tom’s CBS Boston interview and accompanying article:

Boston Marathon Historian Proposes Footbridge To Honor Bombing Victims

The bridge was also the feature in a Runnersworld.com article by Scott Douglas:

Boston Marathon Historian Wants Memorial Running Bridge

I can certainly see the merits of the argument that the bridge would be at risk for vandalism in that spot given the condition of the current bridge. But the current bridge has a dark, cage-like feel to it. If the bridge were brighter and more open, a shining memorial to so many people (to a city even), it just seems hard to believe that anybody would desecrate it. Another thing to consider is that perhaps in that exact spot it might be at risk, but if it’s moved a bit away from there, in either direction, perhaps that would make a difference. What are your thoughts on this?

Thousands Raised for CAF

Pints for Prostheses

On Wednesday night, some local runners hosted a fundraiser benefitting the Challenged Athletes Fund (CAF). There were so many people involved in this great event, some of whom were: Michael and Rebecca Roberston, Thor Kirleis, Lindsay Smith, Meagan Drumm, Emmett Murphy, Lauren Ryba Davides, and EJN. Thor’s wife Heather was responsible for all the great graphic design work (see the banner up above).

According to Michael Robertson, over $3,800 has been raised so far. Between admission ticket sales, raffle tickets and then the silent auction, there were plenty of ways for people to give. The silent auction included items such as Bruins tickets, signed Bruins hockey sticks, entry to the Falmouth Road Race and gift certificates to various stores.

Stephen Currid holds up his prize sheet. He’s the proud owner of a new pair of Skechers.

Through the Level we were able to get prizes from Skechers (shoes) and Fitzgerald PT (AlterG time), along with a special Level prize package (t-shirt, charity promotional opportunity, race entry).

Shane O’Hara made an appearance later, bringing with him some of his Wednesday night Marathon Sports group run crew. It was great to see so many people turn out to help out such a worthy cause. To find out more about the CAF, you can read their response to the Boston bombings here.

We are still accepting donations on our Pints For Prostheses event page, so you can still help make a difference!

Kirsch on the Mountains

Paul Kirsch is deeply involved in the Mountain/Ultra/Trail (or MUT) running community. Paul serves as both a team manager for the US Mountain Running Team and also the MUT Chair on the USATF-NE board. It’s only natural that we turn to him when looking to get a finger on the pulse of the mountain scene. Road races are all the rage these days, but there’s just something gritty, hard-nosed and olde school about mountain running that the Level finds very appealing. We plan on expanding our scope to cover more of that, and here’s a nice intro to the 2013 mountain running circuit from Paul:

It’s been a tough last month in the running community, especially in New England, where we all know someone who was within 50 or 100 feet of the bomb blast on April 15th. I remember going for a trail run the morning of the 16th with my dogs. What is normally my zen moment of the day, my escape from all that is tough and stressful in the world, had been fouled by the tragic events of the day before. A few heartless people had taken our outlet, our escape and done something that caused us to associate it with sadness and pain and death.

I say all of the above with the perspective of someone who was affected on a minimal level compared to the people who were there in Boston that day. I can only imagine what they are all going through on so many levels.

I’ve continued to have those thoughts all in the back of my head until this past Sunday when I made the early morning drive over to Huntington, VT for the first race in the 2013 USATF New England Mountain Running Circuit. When you live in rural New Hampshire and you drive across NH and VT at 4AM, it’s hard not to be at peace and pretty mellow on the drive. No one is on the road, the scenery is amazing, and you better have a well stocked iPod because Satellite radio only gets reception for about 50% of the time. When I got to Sleepy Hollow Ski and Bike Center in Huntington, I started to see familiar faces and I was reminded again of the amazing feeling of community and all that is right with the world when I am in the midst of my favorite people - the mountain running folks. We come in all shapes, sizes and abilities but we all share a fierce competitive spirit and a good sense of humor, as we voluntarily go up and down mountains for the fun of it. It was the perfect antidote to my feelings of the last 3 weeks.

Leslie O'Dell Beckwith appears to be all smiles at Sleepy Hollow. Courtesy of Scott Mason.

Leslie O’Dell Beckwith appears to be all smiles at Sleepy Hollow. Courtesy of Scott Mason.

Sleepy Hollow is the perfect way to kick off that beautiful simplicity that is mountain running- a low key race with a focus on a quality course and enough amenities to enjoy it but not so many that the “race” gets lost in the “event” of it all. The race is organized by Kasie Enman and Liz Hollenbach and the GMAA. That’s Kasie Enman as in “2011 World Mountain Running Champion” Kasie Enman, because, in the no-ego world of mountain running, it makes perfect sense that the world champion would follow up her amazing performance in 2011 by organizing a great mountain race for the rest of us.

I look forward to race #2 in the circuit at Wachusett and the rest of the series, surrounded by amazing people, who will remind me throughout the series of the amazing vibe of the mountain running community and everything that is right in the world with runners.

We do have something coming on the Sleepy Hollow race, I swear! Come on Newbould, all eyes are on you. No pressure no pressure no pressure…

Memorial Bridge

At the most recent USATF-NE board meeting (held on Monday, May 6th), association president Tom Derderian presented an artist’s rendition of a new footbridge in Boston. The bridge would not only replace the current eyesore, but would also memorialize the victims of the bombing and a be symbol of the strength of the community and the race.

Of the proposed bridge, Tom said:

“Yes, the Boston Marathon Bombings have shocked, angered, and saddened us. USATF-NE has made a cash donation. Now it is time to plan for a lasting memorial to the victims, the race, and the community. At Monday’s USATF-NE board we unanimously approved a concept for a running gateway bridge over the Mass Pike connecting the Boston University area with the Allston/Harvard area. There is already an aging, ugly bridge there, but the proposed span would arch the highway with signage that would greet visitors to the Boston Stong/Marathon City. Competitors to the marathon would pass under the bridge into the city and on buses out to the starting line. Mayor Menino  said, “I’m proud to say that the car is no longer king in Boston.”  This running/cycling bridge would show the mayor’s vision to visitors and residents. Bridges are symbolic as ways to bring people together and that is something that runners and the larger community need in the wake of the bombing. Such easements to exercise are of course good public health measures.”

The bridge in question that this one would replace is by the Regina Pizzeria in Allston, where the Mass Pike goes under Cambridge St. It certainly is an ambitious project and will take a lot of hard work and cooperation to get done, but with a little luck we could soon have an inspiring arch welcoming people into the city.

NBB Headed to Austin

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New Balance Boston Athletes to Represent Boston at Red Sock Relays

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 12.14.47 PM(Austin, TX) -­ Sarah Crispin and Dan Kramer from New Balance Boston are the latest athletes to confirm their participation in the Austin Track Club’s Red Sock Relays, being held in Austin, TX on May 11. Crispin, a two-­time All-­American in the 800 meters and distance medley relay at Tufts University, has been with New Balance Boston since 2007. Kramer attended McGill University in Montreal, where he earned all-­Quebec honors in cross country and several conference championships in the indoor 1500 meters. After graduating McGill, Kramer ran with Montreal Endurance (now McGill Olympic) before returning home to the Boston-­area and joining New Balance Boston.

Crispin’s participation adds an extra level of significance to the Relays through the event’s beneficiary, the GiveForward fund established on behalf of Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky. Downes and Kensky were severely wounded in the Boston Marathon attacks. Downes and Crispin were co-­workers at The Giffords School, and when she learned about their injuries, Crispin wrote a blog for the running website Level Renner asking for donations for her friends. “That was how Sarah first came to our attention,” says Austin Track Club director George Perry. “We were looking for a beneficiary that would allow us to make a direct, personal impact on someone who survived the attack. At the same time, Sarah was reaching out to the community she knows best. Once we were put in contact with her, it didn’t take much convincing to get her to sign up.”

Crispin and Kramer join Matt Duffy of the Northern California-­based Asics Aggies and the Austin Track Club’s roster as the elite athlete contingent at the Relays. These athletes will be available to any mile relay team looking for an extra burst of speed to get under the 4:15 time that earns a donation on the team’s behalf. An elite mile race will cap off the Relays’ festivities, which include a series of 200-­meter sprints, all-­comers mile relays and individual miles, and a social media scavenger hunt powered by MapMyFitness.

Registration for the Red Sock Relays will cost $10. For more information, please visit www.redsockrelays.com.

The Austin Track Club, L3C, a low-­profit limited liability company, is a professional track and field team with the mission to train, develop and support aspiring Olympic athletes. Since its inception the club has coached numerous athletes to compete in national and international competitions, most notably 2012 Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano.

The Return of the Group Run

Marathon Sports hosted their usual Wednesday night group run, but there was nothing usual about this particular run. It was the first time that the group has been able to meet at the Boylston St location since the bombing on Patriot’s Day. On an average night one can expect to find about 40 people gathered for a workout, but last night drew a crowd of closer to 300.



The gathering was so big that it caught the attention of more than just the underground running media, as mainstream outlet WBZ was on hand to cover it as well.

Before the run started, store manager Shane O’Hara addressed the crowd and reminded us to keep the victims “in your hearts, minds and in your miles.” Although the store looked great and it was a positive upbeat environment, there are still people out there that need your help. Talking to Shane after the event, he mentioned  a couple of people that were badly hurt, and I believe this is the link to help them out directly.

Shortly after that, members of the run club presented Shane with a plaque thanking him (and the rest of the company) for his service to the running community.

After the run, returning runners were greeted with pizza provided by Bertucci’s and drinks and snacks from Shaw’s.

Below are some pics taken during the event, and additional pics can be found on the Level Instagram page:

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See you there next Wednesday!

Help Needed

Special guest blog by Sarah Crispin

boston marathon blue ribbon 4.16.13On Monday my good friend Patrick and his new wife were both hurt in the Boston Marathon Bombings.  My understanding is that they each lost a leg, and are currently in different hospitals. Right now it looks like they are both going to be okay.

I have not yet had the good fortune to meet Patrick’s wife, but Patrick was a friend of mine from The Gifford School. We carpooled together every day for my first two years at Gifford, worked together, and often went out to watch (what else) the Red Sox.

You will not find a better person. He is the kindest, most selfless man I have ever met. I have every confidence that he will handle this with the grace, style, and infallible humor that characterize him. I wish I possibly had adequate words to describe how very, truly, GOOD he is. He’s the kind of person who is there when the chips are down, miraculously appears when your car needs to be jump started, and knows when you just need a hug and no words. I absolutely love him and am heart broken that he is among the affected.

I know that he and his wife are going to have loads of medical expenses as a result of this tragedy. I’m pasting the link to Patrick’s fundraising page below. If you have a second, take a look at it. If you have a few extra dollars, please donate. If you don’t, that is really, truly, OK, but please leave a message of support. Anything is helpful.

To my Team: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To everyone: There are lots of you seeing this (again, I am so lucky), so please DO fwd this to anyone who you think might be able and willing to help. Post it on Facebook, tweet about it, send it to all of your coworkers, your entire class, your entire team, etc., anything to get it out there.

Quick aside, also to everyone: It’s worth noting that Tim Ritchie ran 2:21 (5:24 mile pace) in his marathon debut on Monday, coming in 25th overall. That is nasty. Katie Sheedy, my former 800m training partner at Tufts, ran 2:58 (6:50 mile pace). Sorry guys, but you deserve new fans! Their hard work and grueling efforts should not be overlooked.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this and to think of my friend Patrick.


Lots of love, forever and always.


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