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State College Runners Return to Boston Marathon One Year After Tragedy

Andrew Maguire finished the race in just under three hours.

After crossing the finish line he met his family at a restaurant two blocks away where they shared celebratory drinks. Afterward, they all headed across the Charles River, toward his sister’s home, and decided to stop at another restaurant to eat.

That’s when Maguire received a text message from his wife, who was back in State College.

“Are you OK?” she asked.

Thinking she was concerned about the physical toll the race took on him, Maguire told her he was fine. Then she explained the explosions – two – at the Boston Marathon finish line. A line he’d just crossed about an hour before.

Suddenly, his family’s phones were buzzing, too. Loved ones wanting to know they were all right. The family quickly went into the restaurant, and like the rest of America, was glued to the televisions waiting for answers. Ultimately, Maguire, his family, and the world would learn that two homemade bombs killed two people and injured more than 250 others.

“We were less than two miles from what was happening. We were just there watching like everyone else. … It was pretty surreal,” Maguire says. “It’s weird to think that I walked right by where the second bomb went off probably one hour before it went off.”

Maguire competed in the Boston Marathon along with several other members of the Nittany Valley Running Club. The group raises funds for the Centre Volunteers in Medicine organization that provides free medical and dental care to local residents who can’t afford it.

Another member of the group, George Lesieutre, also finished the race roughly an hour before the bombing. As usual, after the race he grabbed his medal, got some food, and then made his way to the subway to head to Arlington where he stays with friends. He was recuperating and about to take a shower when someone turned on the television.

“I learned about it the same way everybody else did. … It was an awful day. At first we had no idea what was going on. It was a long time before anyone knew how many people had been injured and what happened – it was hours,” Lesieutre says.

He and others began scrambling to check the status of fellow running club members.

“There were people we couldn’t reach for quite some time. We were worried,” he says.

Thankfully, no one in the group was hurt.

“From the first mention of it on television it was clear what normally is a fantasic day and experience … was going to be a very bad day,” Lesieutre says. “You feel the normal excitement about finishing a race and maybe having done well and really happy about that and then totally devastated a short time later.”

Still, the terrorist attack is not keeping State College runners away. Lesieutre, Maguire and other members of the Nittany Valley Running Club are set to run in the Boston Marathon again Monday.

“I think almost everybody who was there last year decided ‘we need to go back,’ as a show of solidarity for the victims and the running community for the City of Boston,” Lesieutre says. “It’s the idea that you can’t let something like this keep you away.”

For Maguire, when he crossed the finish line last year he fully intended to take a year off from marathons. After training through the cold winter, he decided a resting period was in order. And then the explosions happened.

“I spent about two hours to committed to not running the Boston Marathon in 2014, but as soon as the bombs went off I knew I needed to be part of Boston Strong,” Maguire says.

The running club raises roughly $50,000 a year for Volunteers in Medicine, according to Sue Forester, spokesperson for the non-profit organization. The group has raised nearly $500,000 over the last 10 years.

“It’s a good group. They’re very dedicated to us. They believe in our mission,” Forester says.

Anyone interested in making a donation on behalf of the marathoners, either the team as a whole or individual runner, can do so by clicking HERE.

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