The trauma and triumph of running from the Pentagon to the Boston Marathon finish line ended Saturday afternoon. Frank Fumich of Arlington and fellow ultra-marathoner Matt Nelson of Lake Worth, Fla., ran the final 26.2 miles together on the Boston Marathon course, joined for the last 19 miles by Erin Hurley, one of many runners who didn’t get to finish when the bombs exploded. Waiting for her at the finish line that April day was her boyfriend Jeffrey Bauman, who lost both legs and was photographed minutes later in an image that circled the globe and visually summarized the day’s tragedy. After they finished Saturday, Hurley gave her Boston Marathon medal to Fumich, one of many emotional moments for him over the four-day odyssey.
Fumich and Nelson set out to raise $78,600 for the bombing victims — a thousand dollars for every mile of three marathons — after having raised more than $52,000 during a three-marathon run last month. They finally broke the $78,600 barrier on Saturday morning, about halfway through the last of the eight marathons apiece that Fumich and Nelson ran, alternating duties as they slogged up the East Coast in crushing heat, heavy traffic, difficult navigation and darkness.
Fumich returned to Arlington Sunday night, and said today that he had not suffered any injuries, but had extensive soreness, lasting fatigue and some mental haziness. Though he has run marathons through deserts and once ran 135 miles nonstop, this was the longest distance and number of days he has completed. “I’ve had feelings I haven’t had before,” Fumich said of his physical reaction to running six or seven hours, climbing in an RV for some water and sleep, then getting back out for six or seven more hours of running. “Bad headaches. Scary stuff. There were times when I was totally in the depths, moving slow, head down, thinking ‘man this is really hard.’ There were some down moments.”
But running down Boylston Street with Nelson, and Hurley between them, was the top highlight, Fumich said. Hurley told WCVB-TV in Boston that she was “kind of explaining my experience along the way and give them an idea of how much it means to me that they’re doing this.
At the finish line, they were greeted by Larry Marchese, a representative of the family of Martin Richard, the eight-year-old boy killed by the blasts. Fumich and Nelson had targeted the Richard family, and then Bauman, as the beneficiaries of their runs.
“They are absolutely in awe of what you have accomplished,” Marchese told them, WCVB reported, “and especially in this weather so thank you guys so much on behalf of the Richard family.”
Fumich and Nelson had originally calculated they would need to run about nine marathons apiece to make the 450-mile trek, which included jaunts through Philadelphia and New York City. But unplanned detours and delays set them back a number of hours, so members of their crew ran about two marathons so that Fumich and Nelson could move ahead to Boston and begin the final stretch on Saturday morning.
After they finished, they went to a family barbecue where they met both Bauman and Carlos Arredondo, who leapt into action after the bombings and was seen assisting Bauman in the same photo. The two threw out the first pitch together at a Red Sox game last week.
One of the things that Fumich said kept them going was the support along the route from total strangers, both police officers in the District, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and also e-mails and texts from people around the country. “I was almost like getting energy off those,” he said. And he knew folks were following the run, which had a real-time location tracker online, so he wrote detailed Facebok posts after each marathon, and at other points on the run as well.
“I knew people were following it like crazy,” he said, “so I did feel some responsibility, and I wanted people to pray for us. I really thought we needed it.” As of Monday, they had raised more than $81,100.
The Endurance Trust, set up to raise money for Bauman and the Richard family, is here.