Posted by boston.com March 6, 2014 10:00 AM
Beth Kaufman, 36, a Somerville resident, considers herself one of the lucky ones. Last Marathon Monday, as she stood on Boylston Street, a block away from the bombs that struck the city of Boston, she was able to flee from the scene of the tragedy physically unscathed.
She remembers seeing the fear, chaos, destruction, and injured runners - things that can never be unseen.
“It’s hard to describe,” says Kaufman. “Although I wasn't physically injured and no part of the bomb actually touched me, weeks after the event I was still terrified to leave the house. I wouldn’t take the T because if anyone that had a backpack they seemed suspicious to me. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be physically injured in the attacks.”
Weeks went by and Kaufman slowly regained her confidence and trust in the city. An avid runner, who had taken on the Boston Marathon in 2004, she decided right there and then that she needed to take control of the situation, take back the celebratory event, and became determined to run the Boston Marathon in 2014.
She signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon, a qualifying race for Boston, and included sections of the Boston Marathon route into her training runs. “Running down Boylston Street was therapy for me,” says Kaufman. “It helped me heal immensely. I would stop and stand where I stood last April, and it felt like I was standing up for my city.”
She laced up and took on the Twin Cities route this past October, turning around all of fear and emotions to propel her forward. Despite her efforts, she missed the qualifying time for the Boston Marathon by just 25 seconds.
“I was devastated,” says Kaufman. “All of that training and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill my goal of running for Boston.” Then just a week later after submitting an essay about her personal experience at the Boston Marathon to the Boston Athletic Association, and despite her 25 second timing miss in Minneapolis, the BAA granted her a bib to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Though Kaufman is not required to fundraise for her run, the Director of Operations at the YMCA of Greater Boston’s Waltham branch will run as part of the YMCA’s team, hoping to raise $3,000 for her employer.
“I am not running so that I can eat a large pizza with no guilt,” she says. “What will be driving me to run this April is supporting Boston, the community, the families, and everyone who was affected. The YMCA is so closely interwoven into the city of Boston and surrounding communities and makes a significant difference in the lives of hundreds of families, and so I thought it was the perfect organization to dedicate my run to.”
All funds raised by Y Marathon team members will support the YMCA of Greater Boston’s teen programs. This past summer the YMCA of Greater Boston handed out more than 8,000 free three-month memberships to teens at our 13 branches with unlimited access. Programs like Safe Dating and Cyber Bulling have also become staples at the Y, giving more than 1,000 teens the skills they need to make proper decisions.
Kaufman has also been a part of leading the Y of Greater Boston’s training committee runs. Every Saturday at 8 a.m., departing from a different Y location, runners are banding together to push and encourage each other as they train. The runs are free and open to the public.
“The YMCA of Greater Boston has been a longstanding fixture in the city, just like the Boston Marathon, so we are thrilled to be part of a historically positive day in the city,” says YMCA of Greater Boston CEO and President Kevin Washington. “As one of Boston’s leading social service agencies promoting healthy living and athletic achievement for more than 160 years, we are honored to stand YStrong with our city.” Learn more about the YMCA’s runners by visiting ymcaboston.org/ystrong.
The YMCA of Greater Boston also has many volunteer opportunities leading up to and on the day of the marathon, including helping at the race day celebration, organizing Y fans out on the course, assisting with race day logistics and much more. For more information on how you can support the Y’s runners through volunteerism, email firstname.lastname@example.org.