Jennifer Furze was 10 minutes removed from having run her second Boston Marathon on April 15, when the unthinkable happened.
The Papillion resident was a block and a half away from the finish line she had just crossed when a pair of explosions rocked the celebratory atmosphere around the completion of one of sport’s greatest events.
“I couldn’t see it because I was around a corner, but I absolutely heard it,” said Furze, who finished her race in four hours, 13 minutes and 53 seconds. “I said, ‘That’s not normal.’ It sounded like a building falling over.”
As word gradually began to travel of what had transpired, Furze’s first thoughts ran immediately to her family. Her husband Dan, 10-year-old daughter Alexis and 5-year-old son Michael had been at the finish line to root her on.
All the Furzes were unharmed as Dan and the children had migrated down the block from the explosion, but it was an emotional reunion as Jennifer embraced her children.
“They were about a block away and they saw some of the terror and the panic,” Jennifer said. “As a parent, it’s your job to provide safety and assurance and sometimes you can’t always be there. And at that moment, it was unimaginable.”
Last Friday, as Furze reflected on the incident, she said she found herself thinking a lot about the victims, especially the Richardses, the family of four — father, mother, son and daughter — who endured the death of their eight-year-old son and severe injuries to the mother and daughter.
“I just can’t quite comprehend what they must feel,” she said. “The father is running in the marathon, the family is there to support him and this happens. I don’t know how I would deal with that, as the runner.”
But Furze knows how she’ll respond in terms of running future Boston Marathons. She plans on being back and she knows the resilient demeanor of Bostonians, who will do all within their power to continue making the marathon the positive event it has been for the last 117 years.
“My daughter asked me, ‘Won’t people run next year after this?’” Furze said. “I told her, for me and for a lot of other runners, there’s no way we’re going to let this stop us. This won’t take away the spirit of Boston and the runners. I don’t live life in fear and I know we’re all more determined to show the human spirit.”
Furze said coming back for the marathon is important for the thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of spectators who are the race’s lifeblood.
For 26.2 miles every April from suburban Hopkinton, Mass. to the doors of the Boston Public Library, the elite join with the road warriors of every stripe to take part in what is the running world’s most prestigious event.
Stop to think about it and it’s fairly mind-boggling. For 117 years, athletes from all walks of life have come together on the course to run together. It’s tantamount to sandlot teams taking the field against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The fervor over the marathon is every bit as raucous as Boston, one of the world’s greatest sports cities, gets.
Add into the mix the spectators lining every foot of the race — cheering on complete strangers, handing out water and popsicles, exhorting the athletes to do just one more mile — and, Furze said, it’s the purest demonstration of the indomitable spirit of humanity coming out to do or to witness something good and great.
“Like anyone who runs the marathon, I’m grateful for the community spirit in Boston and I’m confident that will continue,” she said. “I look forward to the positive things that will come out of this and there will be positive things. This race is the way we demonstrate our humanity.”
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