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Columbia Boston Marathon survivor runs again

Monday, April 21, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:04 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Bill Washington, top left, crosses the finish line during the 2013 Boston Marathon. Shortly after Washington crossed the finish line two pressure-cooker bombs went off in the area. Washington is running the marathon again Monday in honor of the victims of the bombing.

UPDATE: Bill Washington finished this year's Boston Marathon in 4 hours and 25 minutes, according to the Boston Athletic Association website.

COLUMBIA — In last year's Boston Marathon, Bill Washington crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 5 minutes.

Four minutes later, two pressure-cooker bombs exploded a few hundred feet from where he stood on Boylston Street. Three people were killed, and an estimated 264 were injured, many quite seriously.

This week, Washington, 67, has returned to Boston to run the 26.2-mile course again.

"For me, it’s kind of a personal thing," the Columbia runner said. "Because the events of last year and my proximity, I felt very strongly to run to honor those people so I decided to run again."

Monday marks the city's annual marathon and the first since the bombs exploded 12 seconds apart near the finish line.

At least 36,000 runners — the second-largest field in the race's 118-year history and 9,000 more than last year — are expected to participate in Monday's race, according to various news reports.

The final marathon

For Washington, this will be his 10th marathon and, he says, also his last.

Despite a love of running, the time commitment and physical conditioning required for training takes its toll. Washington also fought an ankle injury this year and another from stepping on a bottle on the MKT trail.

"I enjoy it and I like running, but I’m going to concentrate on less time commitments," Washington said.

He was standing 300 feet from the end on April 15 when the first bomb exploded at 2:49 p.m., EST. The bombs exploded in succession about 200 yards apart.

A Navy veteran, Washington ran back toward the blast before being told by emergency personnel to move in the other direction, according to an interview with the Missourian last year.

Just after last year's marathon, he pledged to enter Boston again this year— a promise he is keeping.

Serious running

Washington has had a long love affair with running. After attending Hickman High School, he attended MU and ultimately graduated from the School of Medicine. He spent his career with the Navy, moving to California.

He ran his first marathon while in the Navy, which led to his running passion. After leaving the service, he lived in Wisconsin before he and his wife moved back to Columbia in 2007.

Although a full-time job and the harsh winters of Wisconsin made it difficult to maintain his training regime, he continued to run marathons when he could.

This year, he joins nine other runners from Columbia in Boston.

"In the running community, this is the race this year," Washington said "A lot of people felt a strong pull to run Boston."

Surveillance has been tightened this time, with twice as many official personnel lining the route, plus bomb-sniffing dogs, metal detectors and security cameras.

Along with an increased police presence, runners are not allowed to carry backpacks,  and spectators are encouraged to leave them at home or will be subject to search.

Costumes covering the face, bulky clothes, large signs and coolers are also prohibited, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

"Spectators can’t have coolers this year, which often have ice and things like orange slices for runners, so that homemade touch will be lost this year," Washington said.

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.


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