A Runner’s Spirit: Reflections on the Boston Marathon

Reliv’s Vice President of International Joe Wojcik shares his thoughts on the 2013 Boston Marathon. 

By now we have all heard of the horrific events that occurred during the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. I was a participant in the race and wanted to share some of my thoughts and observations from the day. While my normal posts might include some amusing anecdotes about the race and some statistics on my performance, my experiences last Monday do not lend to any humor or relishing any personal accomplishments.

I had a special mission on this day and it was to honor my father who ran every day for more than 34 years and completed numerous marathons. The Boston Marathon was always his favorite race and when he was in the last stages of his battle with pancreatic cancer last year, he asked me to spread some ashes around the course.

Honoring Dad
I enlisted the help of my uncle Gregory, who is also an accomplished runner and loves the Boston Marathon, in my quest to perform one last tribute to my dad. We put the ashes in mini Ziploc bags tucked into our racing singlets and spread them at various points along the route that had special meaning for my father: the start in Hopkinton, Wellesley, Heartbreak Hill, the Citgo sign outside of Fenway Park and the finish line on Bolyston Street. While we were in different waves and would not actually run together, we were united in spirit.

Joe with Uncle

Checking In
I stopped along the route at those spots, dashed a few ashes on the side of the road and kept moving. I had a good race and was back at the hotel relaxing when the bombs went off. My thoughts turned to my uncle, who I calculated would be out on the course and just nearing the finish line at this time, and my aunt, who would be waiting for him there.

I frantically checked the Boston Marathon website for his splits and tried to call his mobile, but the cell phones were shut off for fear of possibly igniting any additional bombs. After a long and tedious wait, I got a text from my aunt stating that they were okay. Knowing that my uncle was going to spread some ashes at the Citgo sign, she went out there to meet him. Luckily, he was a couple of miles away from harm when the bombs exploded. We think that my father was watching over us.

It was an eerie night in Boston as my hotel was right near the finish line where all the carnage took place. There were police and military personnel everywhere. Hotels were being evacuated, sirens were blaring and the streets were generally empty. What is usually a night of celebration and fun turned into an evening of sadness and anxiety over the day’s terrible events.

I was amazed at the hundreds of texts, emails and Facebook postings inquiring about my safety. The messages came from friends, family, Reliv Distributors and employees. I was really humbled by the thoughtfulness of everyone who knew that I was out on the course that day and I appreciated your concern for my family members and me.

I feel a profound sense of sadness for the victims and their families, but will keep them in my mind as I continue to run and live my life. It has changed this race forever and it now has even more meaning for me. While I thought that this might be my last Boston for a while, I feel a need to go back and run again in support of my family, fellow runners, spectators and the city of Boston.

I will take it one mile at a time.

Joe with Mom

One thought on “A Runner’s Spirit: Reflections on the Boston Marathon

  1. Hello,
    Thank you for this very touching blog, and for sharing your experience of this year’s marathon with all of us. May God give you and yours, and all the victims and their families, strength to continue.

Leave a Reply