Keep on running! Family set to take on Boston Marathon... 12 months after being caught up in explosions

John McGarel and Emma Beck are looking forward to the Boston Marathon. Below: Sarah at last year's event with dad John.
John McGarel and Emma Beck are looking forward to the Boston Marathon. Below: Sarah at last year's event with dad John.

Sarah McGarel was just half a mile from the finish line of last year’s Boston Marathon when two bombs were detonated, claiming the lives of three people.

But in an act of defiance she will return to run the course in April 21 - and this time she’s bringing her family with her.

Sarah McGarel, with dad John.

Sarah McGarel, with dad John.

Sarah’s brother John and his partner Emma Beck are also in training to complete the 26-mile course, in what promises to be an emotional reunion.

Parents John and Jenny – who were in Massachusetts and faced a frantic search for their daughter after learning of the explosion last year – will also return to add their support.

“I think there will be a special feeling at the event this year, it will be emotional for many people because of what happened,” Sarah, 30, told The Standard.

“But I think that will make everyone there more determined.”

Sarah – who now lives in London after completing a three-year work placement in Boston, USA – came so close to completing the 2013 course and accepted an invitation from organisers to take part again.

She joined a group of friends to run the course last year, a few weeks after the main event was brought to a chaotic halt, but she is now eager to get that buzz of completing the event with the crowds their to cheer her on.

“I’m looking forward to getting to that finish line, it’s something I didn’t get to experience last year,” she added.

Back in Lincolnshire, John and Emma are currently putting themselves through the early alarm calls to get in the training miles.

“We thought it would be really nice to go and support her. And quite soon after we thought, ‘if we’re going to go and watch it then why aren’t we running it?’” said John, 29, a PE Teacher at Horncastle’s Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School.

York Street resident John has experience of running a Boston Marathon – albeit the Skegness to Boston Seabank event – and that was 15 years ago.

Emma, meanwhile, is a novice runner but adjusting to the punishing training schedule.

“It does consume your life,” she admitted. “You become a bit obsessive. I was never a runner at school so I’m getting the miles in now.

“I used to come home from doing a mile a feel proud. Now I’m coming home and saying I’ve got up to 11 miles, but I’m still a bit apprehensive about doing the full distance.”

John and Emma, 25, a Pilgrim Hospital trauma nurse, orginally wanted to raise £500 for Cancer Reasearch UK – but they have already more than doubled that total.

“I’d like to raise about £2,000 now,” added Emma, who may find swelling the coffers a bit easier than cajoling John into staying with her on the course.

“Once you put the training in - and you do have to train hard for it - you have to try to get the best time possible,” he added.

Last year John, Emma and family members back in Boston were desperately trying to get the latest news after learning of the explosions which left the world in shock.

“It was heart in your mouth for a good hour or more,” said John. We couldn’t hear anything from anyone, and not knowing was the hard part. But when we did find out everyone was alright it was just a feeling of relief.”

Three lives were claimed and 2,600 were left injured by the blasts, set off by brothers Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev.

Looking back on that day, Sarah said: “You could hear some runners screaming as they found out that something had happened at the finish line, and they knew they had family and friends there.

“I had people that I knew who were running that had family, very young children, at the finish line that I was worried about.”

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