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Family and friends of Martin Richard run the race in his memory

Three childhood pals, now over 18, were among those representing a foundation dedicated to the 8-year-old killed in the explosions ten years ago.

Martin Richard's friend runs Boston Marathon 10 years after bombing
Nolan Cleary, 18, will run the Boston Marathon this year for old friend Martin Richard who died in 2013 during the bombing. (Produced by Randy Vazquez/ Globe Staff)

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Ten years after they lost a son, a brother, and a childhood buddy in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, family members and three third-grade classmates of Martin Richard ran the race together in his memory.

The scene was emotional on Boylston Street Monday as the runners representing Team MR8, the group fielded by the Martin Richard Foundation, each crossed the finish line roughly ten years after bombs exploded at the 2013 Marathon, killing three people including the 8-year-old.

“Running as a team really kept us going the whole way. It was a beautiful thing,” said Richard’s older brother Henry, who completed the Marathon for the first time last year, and crossed the finish line Monday with his brother’s name once again written in marker on his arm. “It’s a very emotional race for me, for my family, for my friends, for Martin’s friends.”

He added that he “thought of [Martin] the whole way.”


Martin Richard's brother run the race in his memory
Martin Richard died in the 2013 marathon bombings.

He was joined on the route by three friends of Martin, each now over 18, who had planned for years to run the Marathon together once they were old enough to do so.

“It feels amazing to be able to honor his legacy and do something that was his dream,” said Jack Burke, 19, after completing the race with 18-year-old Nolan Cleary and 19-year-old Ava O’Brien late Monday afternoon.

All were Richard’s third-grade classmates. Richard’s father, Bill, set off with them from the starting line in Hopkinton, but did not finish. As they ran, team members wore matching yellow jerseys, which included the word “Peace” in Martin Richard’s handwriting across their chest, in a nod to the famous image of the 8-year-old’s poster on which he wrote, “No more hurting people. Peace.”


Burke said he hoped that completing the Marathon as part of Team MR8 would help “spread [Martin’s] message, be able to create kindness in the world, and honor him — never let him be forgotten.”

Though the 10th anniversary of the tragedy was officially marked on Saturday as survivors and families of those killed gathered to lay wreaths and reflect on the attack, there were plenty of reminders Monday of the significance of this year’s race. In addition to the survivors who took part in the race, an emblem reading “4.15 Boston 10 years” was painted on the street near the finish line.

The Martin Richard Foundation, which over the past decade has raised more than $6 million for children’s causes, has said this is the last year it will organize a Marathon team. It is still accepting donations.

Cleary, who trained for the race during his first year at Purdue University, told the Globe before the race that Richard was his “best friend,” and that he hoped his running the race would be meaningful for those who knew Martin before his life was cut short one decade ago.

As neighbors in Dorchester, Martin Richard and Nolan Cleary, seen here at age 7 in 2012, were nearly inseparable. Today, Cleary is 18 years old and ran the Boston Marathon on behalf of a foundation honoring his late childhood friend.Nolan Cleary

When they crossed the finish line together around 4:20 p.m., Cleary said, Denise Richard, the mother of Henry, Martin, and sister Jane, “came up to us and gave us a big hug.”

“Really, just a special moment,” he said.

When O’Brien, who also grew up with Richard, completed the race about an hour later, she said she was glad she could make it to Boylston Street in honor of her friend.


“I knew I was gonna do it one day,” she said, of running her first Marathon. “I’m just glad I could do it with the team.”

O’Brien said spectators seemed especially supportive for the 10-year remembrance, and were “cheering extra loud, especially when they saw us coming by, because they’re all rooting for us.”

Martin Richard's brother speaks after finishing the Boston Marathon race
Martin Richard's brother speaks after finishing the Boston Marathon race (undefined)

David Abel of the Globe staff contributed.

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Spencer Buell can be reached at Follow him @SpencerBuell. Julia Yohe can be reached at Follow her @juliacyohe.