Runner returns to say thanks
Emotional: Justin Barich. Picture: Aaron Harris/The West Australian

Running in last year's Boston Marathon was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Justin Barich.

At least that was the plan until the first bomb shook the City Beach physiotherapist and his family to the core as they stood in the lobby of the Lenox Hotel, just 20m from the massive explosion, one of two that killed three people and injured more than 260.

He, his wife Anne-Marie and three children, aged 6, 8 and 10 at the time, were not injured, but they watched doctors rush to the aid of a man missing both legs as they ran along a blood-stained footpath to escape the pandemonium.

Locals gave Mr Barich - who fled the hotel in just his running singlet, shorts and no shoes - a shirt and shoes to help him escape the cold as the family were pushed further out of the city because it was going into lockdown.

A stranger found them sitting on a porch and helped them find a hotel room about 11pm.

It was the kindness shown by Boston residents and a need for closure that has compelled Mr Barich to return to the city and run the marathon a second time on Monday, despite his concerns for his family's safety.

He admits he is not as fit this year but he has applied to run with one of the injured who cannot complete the course alone because they lost their mobility or sight in the explosions near the marathon's finish line.

"Everyone suffered a bit of post-traumatic stress after last year so we've all come back, including my kids and wife, to get some closure really and to show some solidarity with the Bostonians and the victims," Mr Barich said.

"We would have never usually gone back, but they touched our hearts when we were over there and we have been following it in the press.

"It is also to show the kids that you can't let these things get on top of you and, the old adage, that evil prevails when good people stay silent."

Speaking from Toronto, where he and his family have been holidaying before flying to Boston today, Mr Barich said he had "massive" safety concerns, even though new public safety measures have been announced for this year's race.

He said he expected to be very emotional during the run and they were staying at the Lenox Hotel while they were in Boston, even though "logic told him to stay somewhere else".

"I would feel pretty stupid if it happened again," he said. "I would have exposed my whole family to this again."

Mr Barich said he hoped returning to Boston would help appease some of the emptiness they have felt since the bombings.

He said they all often still jumped when a car door slammed and he did not want his kids to cower any more.

A dancer who wears a prosthetic leg after being injured in the bombings has entered the event this year.

Mr Barich said that after reading about her he would have felt "a little bit soft" if he did not do the same.

We've come back to show some solidarity with the Bostonians." Justin Barich

The West Australian

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