A year ago Tuesday, Cort Basham had just finished his third Boston Marathon and was looking for a place to eat with his mother, who was also on the trip, when he heard an explosion.
“My mind immediately went to the worst, but even someone standing next to us said ‘that sounds like dynamite on a job site’. But it was within seconds that the second one happened,” Basham told WKU Public Radio’s Kevin Willis just days after last year’s race.
“Just seconds later, people start pouring around the corner from Boylston – again we were one block from Boylston. Then you knew, even though we didn’t have line-of-sight, that something terrible was happening and we just tried to move away as quickly as we could,” said Basham.
Three spectators died as a result of the bombings; hundreds were injured.
Basham and his mother were uninjured. As he prepares to return to Boston, we caught up with Basham, a WKU instructor, to ask him about his training for this year’s race and inquire about what he expects the atmosphere to be like for the marathon.
“I can’t imagine. It’s always such a huge celebratory party. In many ways, Boston is sometimes called the 26-mile victory lap. Getting there is the win and being there is just a huge celebration of running. I can’t imagine that anywhere else embraces a race like Boston does,” said Basham. “I really expect more of the same – only amped up.”
Basham finished last year’s Boston Marathon in 3 hours, 14 minutes, but many runners never got that chance as two bombs exploded at the finish line nearly 4 hours, 10 minutes into the race.
Basham says he expects mixed emotions this year.
“I think the way Boston has responded, both right after and since...I think it will be even more of a celebration. Of course, it will be immensely emotional, especially for the runners who didn’t finish last year who are coming back,” said Basham. “I’m interested to hear their stories and perspectives of what it means to be there, given that they were the ones who were stopped short of the finish last year.”
Last year, he says he was just happy to finish the marathon after suffering an injury while training. This year, he’s looking to break the three-hour mark. He talked about the challenges of the course.
“It tricks you off the start. It’s very downhill the first couple of miles and you get sucked into race energy,” said Basham. “Downhill running feels so easy, that a lot of runners tend to go out too fast. And it flattens out until about 15. Then you have to climb about 400 feet over five miles. That’s where you get the storied ‘Heartbreak Hill’. It’s not that it’s a big hill, but it’s the last in a series of hills. That’s the kicker – it’s the fourth hill and comes at mile 20 or 21.”
As for his training plan, Basham says no two runners are identical in their preparations.
“There are plans to fit every person out there. For me, it’s usually about 18 weeks. Eighteen weeks out I start paying attention to things like workouts, long runs and those kinds of things. It’s a slow build,” said Basham.
He says a common misconception about marathon runners is that they run 10-15 miles a day. He says he only does about one long run a week and some parts of the year feature heavy mileage while others don’t.
“It’s an ebb and flow throughout the year. There’s build up over the winter to a spring marathon and then there’s some low times and then you can start building up for a fall marathon.”
This will be Basham’s fourth Boston Marathon. He knows what to expect from the course and he knows what to expect from his fellow runners.
“In all major, big marathons I’ve run – that’s one of the greatest things about it. You’re never alone on the course and late in the race, there’s a good chance you’re going to be working together. Marathoning and running – there’s a lot of solo time involved, it’s still a team sport in both training and racing."
According to the Boston Marathon website, six runners from Bowling Green will take part in this year's race. Eight are running from Owensboro; four from Elizabethtown; two from Hopkinsville and one from Scottsville. Sixteen runners are registered from Evansville, Indiana.