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Patriots Marathon Team moves forward after attack

Posted Apr 16, 2013

Members of the Patriots family give first-hand accounts of the Boston Marathon attack, and are hopeful for the future of the annual race.

They may be a bit shaken, but they’re all still standing strong.

Since the tragic events that unfolded in Boston Monday afternoon, the worldwide community of Patriots supporters has been reaching out directly and via social media to inquire about the 34 members of the Patriots Marathon Team who ran in yesterday’s 117th.

The organization is grateful that every member of the team escaped physical harm. Like the rest of us, they are still dealing with the psychological effects of this deliberate attack. The entire Patriots family continues to think about and pray for those directly affected.

It was certainly a day that will forever be remembered for so many reasons. Weather conditions were almost ideal for the runners, some of whom finished in record time.

Christy Berkery, social media manager in the Patriots PR department, ran her fifth marathon Monday, and came in under the 4-hour mark, at 3:54 – a personal best for her. That eclipsed her previous best by some eight minutes, and also put her past the finish line in downtown Boston just moments before the initial explosion.

During an appearance on Patriots.com radio’s PFW in Progress show Tuesday, she recounted the horrific scene that she found herself in just a block away from the finish line.

“We heard this kind of bang, and everyone turned around. Someone said, ‘Oh a generator exploded.’ You get your medal [for finishing the race] handed to you, then the second one goes off, and everyone freaked out and started running away from the finish line,” Berkery explained.

“Nobody quite knew what was going on.”

Shortly thereafter, authorities cut off cell phone service temporarily, making it difficult for her and other Patriots runners to find one another and their loved ones to let each other know they were all safe.

Many of the runners representing the Patriots were unable to cross the finish line, or even get anywhere near it, because the race had to be called off immediately while authorities cleared the area and tried to restore order.

Patriots Football Weekly’s Andy Hart was among those who came oh-so close to completing the 26.2-mile run, his first-ever marathon attempt. Hart was running on a severely sprained ankle, which he’d injured a month ago during training, and that slowed his time down. Had he been at full speed, he might have been closer to the finish line and the explosions as they went off.

“They say, ‘Live for today, because you’re not guaranteed tomorrow,’ but it’s less than that. It’s ‘Live for the moment,’” mused Hart.

“In my mind, I had finished. I’m a half-mile away, there’s nothing that’s going to stop me. I was thinking, ‘Where do we look to take a picture [at the finish line]?’ These are the things in my mind, and then it ends. It just stops.”

Both Berkery and Hart had loved ones waiting for them near the finish line and were fortunate that none of them was injured either.

“I think it’s going to take a while to let everything settle in,” Berkery added. “It still feels surreal, like we’re just watching something on TV. I’m watching replays of the video and I was just a block away from that and had no idea that that’s what was actually going on.

“I would like to think that this will be the safest marathon in the world, going forward, and that people will rally and do it again and not let this [attack] defeat it.”

“I hope it’s bigger and better,” Hart concluded. “That would be something that might drive me to do it again next year, just for the point of it, you know. There were, however many – 27,000 this year? Go for 37,000 and go for double the spectators… In Boston, it’s a big deal. It’s about people having fun, and to allow something to take that away, would just be unfortunate.

“I don’t know what the balance is between safety and a fun experience.”

While Hart and many other Patriots Marathon Team members did not get to experience the thrill of crossing the finish line, they nevertheless accomplished two tremendous goals. First, they competed in a marathon. And more importantly, they did so to raise money for the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation. This year’s fundraising total came in at just below $250,000, all of which will benefit the foundation’s Myra Kraft Community MVP Awards program.

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