Running the Boston Marathon, twice, with purpose
Toronto man to run double marathon to deal with bombing, past abuse
Lacing up his shoes for a run is more than a ritual for Jean-Paul Bedard. It is beyond exercise, too.
"It's an escape at times, and a therapy at other times," says the Toronto runner, who covers about 20 kilometres a day, every day, on his runs.
When he hits the Boston Marathon route next week, Bedard hopes it will be a rebirth, too.
Just as he was closing in on the finish line last year, he looked back to smile at his wife, Mary-Anne. About 20 minutes later, two explosions rocked the marathon and the city, killing three people and injuring many others.
"We knew that was not a normal noise and then the second one went off and 30 seconds later a whole wave of people came towards us," said Mary-Anne.
Bedard is still in shock how close his wife was to the explosion.
The what-could-have-beens buried Bedard in the very place he was fighting to escape. Just before the run last year, he revealed to his family that he had been sexually abused as a child.
Then, the stress of surviving the Boston bombing created a new crisis.
"The post traumatic stress set me, you know, pretty deep into a depression," said Bedard. "I had to take a five month leave of absence from work."
Bedard, a teacher, said he did nothing for the three months. And then he rediscovered running. "I just sat at home. The one thing I could do was I could run and I would run for two, three, four hours a day it was the only thing that was quieting my mind."
He progressed well with his daily runs, but not to the point where he thought he could ever run the Boston Marathon again. That is, until he realized, he says, confronting the race was like confronting the abuse. It was the only way to heal.
"I'm going to go to Boston this year and run something called a double marathon," he said.
Bedard will run a full marathon before the official race begins. Then he will join the other runners for the actual Boston Marathon course.
That's more than 84 kilometres.
"It's going be a real, real emotional experience when I meet Mary-Anne at the finish line," he said.
It will also be a moment that raises thousands for Toronto's the Gatehouse, a charity that helps survivors of sexual abuse. He's already close to his goal. But there's another goal, too
"People felt like something had been taken away from them. It's such an innocent sport, an innocent activity and that was taken away," said Mary-Anne Bedard. "And I think a lot of the going back to Boston is about reclaiming that."
- An earlier version of this story said that money raised would go to Gateway House. The charity receiving the money is actually the Gatehouse.Apr 14, 2014 11:13 PM ET
With a report from the CBC's Nil Koksal