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Runner near finish line when bombs hit to compete again

Jeff Martin, his wife Allison, and their daughter, Madison.

Jeff Martin, his wife Allison, and their daughter, Madison.

Jeff Martin was about to cross the Boston Marathon off his bucket list when the two explosions rocked Boylston Street, killing three and leading him on a frantic two-hour search for his pregnant wife and parents.

On Monday, Martin will run the 26.2 mile course again as he attempts to reclaim the moment that was robbed from him and so many others that day. And when he crosses the finish line, his mother, wife, and newborn daughter, Madison, will be waiting for him.

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“Running the Boston Marathon, or a marathon, was a bucket list thing for me,” Martin said. “And I couldn’t let that be it.”

A lot had changed for Martin and his family over the past year. On July 7, he and his wife Allison welcomed their daughter, Madison, into the world at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, along the marathon route. She weighed 7 pounds, 7 oz.

“Lucky sevens,” Martin said.

He was also offered a position as assistant professor of biomedical sciences at Quinnipiac University, and he relocated his family from Newton to Hamden, Conn..

Though he said things have been good for him and his family, the decision to run again wasn’t an easy one.

“At first I said I wouldn’t, and I was sure if I would even go watch the race this year,” Martin said. “But I think in the weeks and months afterward, the sentiment kind of turned -- in that I really wanted to run because I wanted to change that memory from a negative one into a positive one.”

For Martin, running is also a way of showing his support for others affected by the bombing.

“Just the way the city and everybody stepped up in so many differing ways after the events last year,” Martin said.” I felt like I had to run again in support of the Boston Athletic Association, in support of the victims and their families, in support of the city. It was just something I felt like I had to find a way to do.”

He soon learned that deciding to run wasn’t as hard as obtaining a number that would allow him to.

“I wasn’t having much luck because the demand was so high because I think everybody felt that way,” Martin said. “Everybody wants to run in support of the Boston Marathon.”

Martin said all the charities he considered running for were full. He also didn’t have preference as an out-of-town runner and wasn’t fast enough to qualify for the race.

He said he had almost given up hope when friends sent him a link about the BAA calling for runners who had been personally affected by last year’s marathon. His application was accepted a few weeks later; he had his number.

“I’ve been training since that day,” Martin said.

When he does cross the finish line again this Monday, Martin said he isn’t sure how he is going to react, especially when he sees his family afterward.

“It’s going to be very emotional,” Martin said. “And I very much look forward to that.”

Adam Sennott can be reached at adam_sennott@emerson.edu.
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