The Duncan Banner
After pushing themselves through months of aching muscles, mental exhaustion and injuries, the joy of crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon was ripped away by an act of terrorism.
But for David McCord, he’ll get his chance to “Finish the Course” — two weeks to the day after the bombings happened that cut the race short for him on April 15. The Boston Marathon starting line began in Hopkinton, Mass. but for McCord, the race will end 1,700 miles away in his hometown of Comanche.
On April 29, McCord will get his chance to cross a finish line that he was deprived of crossing in Boston.
Comanche High School is hosting a community wide event at 2:30 p.m. Monday, April 29 at the Comanche football stadium.
“Several of his friends knew he was coming home and we thought it would be neat if he could finish the race at home,” said Linda Watson, CHS teacher and McCord’s friend. “He wanted to talk to the kids about running and about his experience.”
After his speech, McCord will run his final mile around the Comanche track, where four of his family members will each run a lap with him. Additionally, any child who would like to run with him, is welcome to do so. The event is open to the public.
McCord is now a resident of Boston and at almost 50-years-old, he has been running for about two years. Although he has run several half marathons and 13.1 mile races all over the nation, the Boston Marathon was his first full marathon to participate in.
“I’m typically a short distance runner and the opportunity came up for me to run the Boston Marathon through a charity at my church that supports educational and other activities for at-risk inner city youth,” McCord said. “Getting a spot in the Boston Marathon is a treasured experience.”
The fact that McCord was in shape to run the race is in itself a major feat. Right after he signed up, he was injured and had only the most narrow of margins to properly train for the marathon. His longest training run before the marathon was 18 miles, a few miles short of the 26.2 miles for Boston’s race.
Maybe because of the numerous injuries he faced, maybe because the terrain on which he ran, or perhaps because it was the furthest he had ever run, McCord said he was a bit slower than usual that Monday morning.
“At mile 18, I really started struggling in the race,” he said. “I’m normally a fast runner but on that day, I was slow. Being slow maybe saved my life.”
Three miles away from the finish, McCord continued running, unaware of the unfolding tragedy. Just over a half mile from the finish line, a friend caught up to him and gave him the news of the explosions, cause unknown at the time. Undaunted, he continued running toward the finish line, determined, along with several thousand runners still on the course, to finish what they had started.
“After running 25 miles without a phone or any money on me, I was struggling to hold my thoughts together. My brain was in a fog. Mostly I was desperate for water,” said McCord.
“I felt as if I were about to pass out when they stopped us from finishing the course. Fortunately, some young person gave me an orange slice. I started to try and sit on the ground but immediately my legs started locking up and I grabbed an iron fence and pulled myself up and continued to stand.”
Stopped by police eight blocks from the finish line after four grueling hours of running, uncertainty and confusion reigned. Few runners had cell phones and for those who had them, calls were not getting through. Would there be an alternate finish line? Was it a transformer or gas line that had blown up? Why were there many more police cars than fire engines heading toward the finish line?
Finally, the word came that the race was over. Without understanding the full impact of what had truly happened, many runners were stunned and heartbroken. Slowly the realization dawned on everyone.
Someone purposefully tried to maim and kill people, runners and spectators alike near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. McCord meandered home for more than two miles through alleyways and back streets on a day that was supposed to be one of the most joyful days of his life.
“Friends all over America were keeping up with me. When they saw how close I was to the finish line and then saw the explosions on TV, people feared the worst,” he said. “I wore that day a bright orange shirt so my friends would spot me along the way. I had no idea that orange shirt would help them find me as they searched desperately for me toward the end of the race after the attack. Boston is an amazing city and they handled this with such grace and strength.”
McCord has also received similar remarks in his determination to keep running. Though he plans to stick to shorter distances now, he said after the Boston Marathon, he has a new found respect to those that run marathons, especially Boston. He did receive a medal for running Boston Marathon even though he was not allowed to cross the finish line due to the attack.
Monday, he will have the opportunity to show that it doesn’t matter how, where or when you finish, only that you do so.
“My running friends tell me I’m like a terrier, which is a dog that just never gives up. It’s all heart,” he said.
“Not everything in life comes in a package with a pretty ribbon. Sometimes the road is hard. But as a runner, I’ve learned that sometimes it comes down to slowly moving forward with one foot in front of the other. Truly, God has blessed me.”