BOSTON (AP) — Memo to any criminals pursued by Boston’s top cop: You can hide, but you can’t run.
Police Commissioner William Evans is an accomplished athlete who has completed 49 marathons and raced the fabled Boston Marathon course 18 times. He’s fast, too. His personal best is 2 hours, 51 minutes, and roughly half of his marathons were run in under three hours.
Now 57, the wiry Evans still gets out the door well before dawn every day, pounding the streets to blow off steam and inspire his 2,100 officers to put down their doughnuts and stay in shape.
Three years ago, he was soaking in a hot tub after running the Boston race when two bombs planted at the finish line killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 others. Ahead of the 120th edition of the race on April 18, The Associated Press caught up with Evans in his office, which is festooned with marathon medals.
AP: You were planning to run Boston this year for the first time since the 2013 attacks and make it your 50th marathon. What made you change your mind?
Evans: What happened in Brussels put a lot of tension on our security. My main focus is making sure the marathon goes off without any problems. As much as I’d like to race and show people we’re back to normal, unfortunately, I don’t know that we’ll ever be. I need to be on Boylston Street, making sure everything goes off well.
AP: How do you secure a marathon? Critics would say it really can’t be done.
Evans: It’s such a soft target, as we found out in 2013. We’ve taken a lot of steps to make it safer. We have more cameras out there. We have more tactical units. Officers are undercover working the crowd. We’re constantly monitoring events as they play out, not only across the country, but internationally. We’re going to be on our toes watching for any intelligence that might lead us to someone who might try to jeopardize the marathon. It’s a huge challenge to make sure that event goes off safely.
AP: Can you describe your most vivid memory from 2013?
Evans: I think it’s having run down that street at 1:34 p.m., waving to my wife and son at the finish line and seeing what a beautiful day it was. And then to turn around and come back approximately an hour and a half later and see the destruction: the barriers torn apart, the broken windows, the victims lying on the street. I think that’s something that I’ll never get out of my head — that contrast.
AP: How does running help you as a police officer?
Evans: If I get my run in every morning, nothing’s going to impact me. I do my best thinking when I’m running. Last night we had three shootings, one fatality. I was awake from 1 to 3 a.m., then up at 4. Right away I say: ‘Long night.’ But I get out. I run. That stuff really bothers me and I can’t sleep. But when I get my run in, I sort of come back. I’m a little more relaxed and able to deal with the problems and the challenges that I face.
AP: What kind of exercise ethic do you promote within the department?
Evans: At the conclusion of every recruit class we run nine miles together from the police academy to headquarters. I like them to see me as a role model, as someone who’s been on the job for 35 years and continually stresses how important fitness is, not only to their physical health but to their mental health. It’ll help them deal with the terrible situations they might have to see and the daily stresses of the job. I don’t want to see our officers out of shape. With the marathon, I love that my cops see the guy who’s leading their department out there humping it.
AP: What’s your daily training regimen look like?
Evans: I get up — no stretching, no nothing — and I’m out the door by quarter of 5 like clockwork. You own the city at that time of the morning. I do six miles every day, and throw in at least another 15 on a long run on the weekend, so at least 50 miles a week. I try to hit the gym, too, in the middle of the day. Like today, I got in here, I did a lot of paperwork. I headed down to the gym and I pedaled the bike for 30 minutes, did some weights. I try to get down there most days.
AP: Any plans to stop?
Evans: When I first started out, I remember I used to look at marathoners and say, ‘They’re crazy. I’ll never do it.’ But I got the competitive bug. Once you got the bug, and you’re healthy, why would you give it up? My bucket list was 50. Now it might go up to 60. I think my wife will kill me.
Follow Bill Kole on Twitter at https://twitter.com/billkole. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/william-j-kole