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Decade after finish line bombing, Hankin returns to Boston Marathon

by | Apr 12, 2023 | Featured, Featured: Features

Beth Hankin

Beth Hankin, shown running Boston in 2012, will return to the race 10 years after the finish line bombing.

On April 15, 2013, Beth Hankin was a mile from finishing her second Boston Marathon when the race was halted after bombs exploded at the finish line area.

Her then-husband was on Boylston Street waiting for her. He escaped without injury.

Hankin and the other runners were pulled off the race course and sat on the side of the road for about an hour. Eventually, she started walking away.

“I finally kind of broke down and started to cry, and people just gathered and hugged me, and they brought me a sweatshirt from their home,” she recalled.

Hankin waited in one woman’s front yard for more than three hours before her husband was able to drive out and reunite with her. They then went to see their three children and extended family, who were waiting for them at home in Millville.

In the week that followed, Hankin, her husband and children all slept together on their couch.

“We had one of those big, huge sofas that wrap around, and the kids just wanted to sleep together,” she explained.

On the 10th anniversary of the bombing, Hankin will return to the race to raise funds for the Hopkinton Women’s Club (gofund.me/2b6f2922). Her goal is to raise $5,000 to support the club’s college scholarship program as well as community outreach programs.

“There is just kind of so much need out there, and we need more people, more funding, and more resources to be able to help,” Hankin said.

Running has been a constant in Hankin’s life from the very beginning. As a child living in Blackstone, she would go to the start line in Hopkinton to watch the Marathon. From age 10, Hankin recalls running outside in KangaROOS sneakers. As she got older, she realized running was more than just a form of exercise. For Hankin, running is “moving meditation.”

But after the 2013 race, her relationship with running changed. Hankin had to work through the stress and anxiety running caused her after the bombing. She started focusing on wellness in all areas of her life. Eventually, she quit her financial services job on Boylston Street — near the finish line — to start her own venture as an integrative nutrition health coach specializing in holistic well-being.

She returned to run Boston in 2014, receiving a complimentary number from the Boston Athletic Association so she could “finish the race” from the prior year. Then she stepped away from the event. Until this year.

“I wasn’t planning to run the Marathon,” said Hankin, now 51. “I just felt moved realizing it was the 10th year. I thought it was a good time to sort of go back and reclaim some of that positive energy that I get from the Marathon.”

In addition to supporting the Women’s Club, Hankin is running for her children, who still deal with the effects of what happened 10 years ago. Her oldest daughter is choosing not to go to the finish.

“She said, ‘It’s very hard for me to go back to that place that traumatized me for years,’ ” Hankin said. “I want to model for her that just because this happened to us — and though it does impact who we are and who we’ve become — it does not have to hold us back from the things that we love and want in life.”

Hankin, who now lives in Upton, is not just running for the Women’s Club and her family but for all who were affected by the trauma of 2013.

“It just feels right to go back and honor those lives lost and impacted due to the events of 10 years ago,” Hankin said. “I think of all those impacted and pray for them to this day.”

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