Wilmington - When bombs shattered the cheers and joy of the last year’s Boston Marathon, it was an unthinkable tragedy which shook the city to its very core. It was also, for citizens like Wilmington’s own Mark Goodwin, a call to action.
“I was riding bikes with my son during his April vacation last year when the bombing happened,” said Goodwin. “And I felt compelled to run this year to show solidarity with the people involved with the tragedy.”
Goodwin, 49, is still a relative neophyte to the world of long distance running. He only began running longer distances in 2008, and his first and only experience with a full-fledged marathon was in 2011. It would take weeks of arduous training in miserable weather to get into marathon-ready condition.
And even then, there were no guarantees that Goodwin would even be able to participate. To clinch a spot in the marathon’s ranks, Goodwin took the advice of his son, Zack, and enlisted with 25 others for the New England Aquarium Charity team. Goodwin and each of his teammates were charged with raising $5,000 to assist with the Aquarium’s youth outreach programs.
For Goodwin, the experience of running these long distance races is inextricably tied to the charitable causes the race support. Previous races had been dedicated to support for breast cancer and Alzheimer’s, diseases which had robbed Goodwin of family and friends. It is with the hope of spreading some light to such darkness that Goodwin trains in the wind and the cold.
“Training for a marathon is just a lot more time,” he said. “You have to dedicate yourself to running five days a week for over eighteen weeks, and that’s a lot of time. You have to get out there in the rain and snow whether you want to or not.”
To Goodwin’s surprise, it soon proved to be a major benefit to have his fellow Aquarium-runners by his side during many a grueling run.
But when it comes to returning Boston pride and reminding the world of the best side of the city, no sacrifice is too great.
“The Boston Marathon is so important because it is the home town race,” Goodwin said. “The Boston Marathon is a celebration of athletic ability. And it’s always been an international race. We want to get back to continuing that tradition.
“That’s been one of the good things about running with the Boston aquarium team,” he continued. “The team is training around you. Having company is a big help and gives you motivation. It really helps to know that there are people going through the same thing that you are.”
On race day, Goodwin and his teammates will travel to the starting line together in the early hours of the morning. When the race begins, each runner will find their own pace, though Goodwin anticipates that at least a handful will be close at hand throughout the marathon.
For himself, Goodwin keeps his goals modest, focusing more on what each face in the marathon’s crowd will mean to the race, the city, and the history which forever links one to the other.
“I’d like to finish under five hours this time,” he laughed. “But I’m just happy to have the experience and to be a part of the aquarium’s cause, and to be a part of the city. I’m glad I got to participate, regardless of what my time is.”
While nothing can ever undo the tragedy of last year’s marathon, the hundreds of runners like Goodwin will ensure that the legacy of the race will lie in triumph and competition, not cowardice and bloodshed.
“It’s a race of inclusion,” Goodwin said. “There are so many international runners who take part, not to mention the wheelchair racers who are involved every year. This race never seems political at all, but a real celebration of athletics and the city and the best things in society.
“It makes you want to jump back in and prove that that’s not going to stop, no matter what terrorist activities.”