Burfoot ’68, Champion Runner Who Ran in Boston Marathon on Monday, Has High Hopes for Future of the Race

“Personally you feel deprived for a moment of your chance to reach the finish line. And then slowly through the confusion the real story reaches you.”

Amby Burfoot, dressed in his Wesleyan apparel, after winning the 1968 Boston Marathon.

Amby Burfoot, dressed in his Wesleyan apparel, after winning the 1968 Boston Marathon.

In the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday, stories emerge from all corners about the shock and terror of the event, not only from the news, but from friends and family as well. While it’s often easy to feel comforted by the Wesleyan “bubble,” there are also important reminders of the direct effect of the tragedy on our greater community.

One such story comes from Amby Burfoot ’68, who in 1968 graduated from Wesleyan and won the Boston Marathon. As an undergrad, Burfoot was a star runner. He was undefeated throughout his four years in cross-country dual races, earned several New England and IC4A college division titles, and has been inducted into the Wesleyan Athletics Hall of Fame. Since graduating, Burfoot has participated in dozens of marathons, and has gone on to become a writer and editor for Runner’s World magazine.

On Monday, Burfoot, 66, was marking the 45th anniversary of his ’68 win by running in the Boston Marathon yet again. He was about a half-mile from the finish line when he was forced to stop where masses had gathered, and he soon learned the reason for this chaos. In the aftermath of the bombings, Burfoot has written, and been interviewed, about his experience on Monday, as well as his hopes for the future of the Boston Marathon.

In an interview on WBUR Boston (which you should definitely take a listen to), Burfoot recounts the moment when he found about the bombing:

We were about a half mile from the finish and we were just starting our celebration, and that’s when the road suddenly closed in front of us. And you know personally you feel deprived for a moment of your chance to reach the finish line. And then slowly through the confusion the real story reaches you, and you just feel tremendous sadness that this happened to all of us.

In a piece for Runner’s World magazine, Burfoot writes about his sentiments toward the nature of the attack:

This wasn’t just an attack against the Boston Marathon… It was an attack against the American public and our democratic use of the streets. We have used our public roadways for annual parades, protest marches, presidential inaugurations, marathons, and all manner of other events. The roads belong to us, and their use represents an important part of our free and democratic tradition.

Burfoot also comments on his fervent belief that these tragic events will only lead to more support and involvement in the Boston Marathon next year and in years to come.

 It will be a lovefest such as running has never seen before–the runners applauding the fans, and the fans applauding the runners. I don’t know how Boston Marathon organizers, and Boston’s elected officials, are going to cope with the demand.

Time will tell if Burfoot’s predictions will come true, but we can only hope for such a rebound for the Boston Marathon.

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