Former Boston Champ Amby Burfoot Reflects About The Tragedy in Boston and Being on the Course

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April 15, 2013

We received the following email from LRC Reader Dan Mendelson. Thanks to him and his wife for sharing this story about Amby Burfoot.

“My wife is a reporter for the Washington Post.  She interviewed Amby this afternoon.  Feel free to use it.  

Fellow runner, Let’s Run reader.
Dan Mendelson”


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Amby Burfoot, is editor at large at Runner’s World magazine. Burfoot won the Boston Marathon in 1968 as a 21-year-old college senior,  and was running it yesterday to mark the 45th anniversary of that earlier win. He was on Massachusetts Avenue, about a half-mile from the finish,  when the explosions ripped.

“Suddenly I saw this huge congestion in front of me,” Burfoot said. “I ran up to it and I didn’t know what was going on – I thought it was drunk college students – but then I realized it was runners. Everyone was on their cell phones. I almost immediately got a call from my wife, who told me about the explosion and that the race was over.”

“To me, the marathon is nothing more than the fact that America is a country of freedom and democracy. We have huge public parades on the streets and massive political protests on the streets and marathons on the streets. It’s all part of our great democratic tradition.”

The Boston marathon is a special event in American sports, Burfoot said. The oldest marathon in the world, it began in  1897.

“It’s the history and tradition and the excellence of this race that sets it apart,” he said. “For many, many years it was virtually the only big marathon in the world and so everyone wanted to come and run, and all the greats wanted to come. It was universally recognized as the best.”

“And since then, there have been many more marathons in other places but Boston is older, has the tradition and has the story, and is where it all began, just like the American story beginning here in Boston. We revere it and will continue to, forever.”

“I feel somber and disappointed and dismayed. You try to put an optimistic spin on it, and yet all you can do watching TV is feel huge sadness for everyone involved in this. For 30 seconds, I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to get to cross the finish line on my anniversary. And then  reality hits and you realize the tragedy is not to me. It’s to the people who were injured. It’s to the city of Boston. It weighs on our collective spirit and beliefs in public traditions and democratic spirit.”

Lyndsey Layton
National Staff Writer
The Washington Post

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