Boston Marathon Debrief: Staffers, Members Reflect

Posted April 22, 2014 at 10:16am

“[We] are reminded that no act of violence, no matter how senseless, can ever take away from the world-class athletic event that the Boston Marathon is and always will be.” — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. BOSTON — The Boston Marathon has always had its followers and has long served as the “gold standard” for the marathoning world. In 118 years of running, this year stood out — and not just because of the staffers and members of Congress running it .  

An American won elite men’s group for the first time in 31 years. Security lined parts of the course, the runners’ village and the finish line, yet the runners and spectators came in near-record numbers.  

When I started writing my Roll Call piece about staffers and the Boston Marathon , I was surprised at how hard it was to find runners. But the ones I did find were eager to talk about their experience and about finding a way to combine their love of running with a high-demand job working for a member of Congress.  

Kerry Allen, legislative assistant for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said she had a “rough day” but still finished in 3:01. “I can safely say if not for the crowds and support throughout the course, I would not have made it to the finish,” Allen said.  

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., finished in 4:48 and called the day “absolutely incredible.”  

“This was not my best time; I’ve run a marathon much faster, but this was my favorite,” Sinema said. “I just felt this really incredible sense of gratitude the whole day. Halfway through, I stopped thinking I would [set a personal record] and I could start focusing on Boston and was filled with gratitude.”  

Scott Zoback, district press secretary for Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., finished in 5:13 and Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass., finished in 4:02.  

As expected, there was a large police presence: bags near the finish line were screened, while runners reported seeing snipers on the roof of the middle school in Hopkinton. Yellow “inspected” tags were stuck on bags, strollers and any other items that could be deemed unusual. But the crowd didn’t falter. Runners reported feeling as much, if not more, enthusiasm compared to previous years. One runner said a volunteer handed her a finisher’s medal while telling her that to do so was an honor.  

Would the runners do Boston again? “Wait three days and ask me that question,” said Sinema, who has a half-Ironman scheduled for June.  

Roll Call has long been a newspaper for Capitol Hill because of our willingness to better understand the people who work there. Hill Navigator, in particular, provides a nexus between the idiosyncratic tasks of Capitol Hill jobs and the high-achieving, often perfectionist, people who hold them. These are the identical traits often exhibited by successful marathon runners, and it’s not surprising that these two populations would overlap. The staffers/runners return now to their lives, inundated with vote recommendations, press releases, constituent mail and meetings. But they can now add this to their already impressive resumes: Boston Marathon finishers.  

Congratulations. And thanks for allowing me to tag along on your big day.