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Continued: Minnesotans strong for Boston: Marathoners are back in the race

  • Article by: BOB TIMMONS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 21, 2014 - 10:06 AM

Tim Snell, 35, of Minnetonka said his urge to return swelled in the hours after the attacks, even though he was well-removed from the horrors at the finish.

The third-fastest Minnesotan to cross (2 hours, 36 min­utes), Snell and his wife, Ashley, decided to stick to their vacation plans — four more days in the city. Boston’s response in the following days calmed him. “They understood life goes on. We can’t be paralyzed by this,” Snell said. “It was great to see, and made me feel like in time we’d be able to move on.”

Dan Foster, 49, of Edina, had been done for about 40 minutes and was having lunch several blocks away with his wife and two boys when the bombs blew. Today, the “what-ifs” linger. What if his wife, Julie, and their boys had stayed longer at their viewing spot, near the second bomb blast? What if the bombings continue to haunt their youngest son, Jake, who struggled with what he watched unfolding blocks away?

“The kids had a lot of questions, as far as the reality of what happened. ‘Why?’ ” Foster said. “They had questions about the safety of the hotel, the airplanes.”

The weight of events hit Jake, then 12, when he returned to school. Teachers were emotional and embraced him. His son’s reaction was, “This was a big thing. This is scary,” Foster said.

Foster will have his family support on Monday — from home. “I think they are OK mentally with me going,” he said. “They’ll be in good shape.”

This year’s field includes Minnesotans new to the race who are equally determined to help start a fresh chapter in Boston. Having qualified last June at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Jennifer Flavin, 28, of Minnetonka, is headed to Boston full-speed ahead. The resilient reaction in Boston she saw from afar deepened her desire to run, “to celebrate life and the opportunity that we get to go [to Boston],” she said. “I am not scared at all. Not intimidated.”

Pulling together

The runners’ ethos will be on full display Monday: swirling sentiments of pride, determination and commitment to a way of life.

Cindra Kamphoff, 38, will be there — one of the returnees — and particularly attuned to what it means to be part of this year’s marathon.

Kamphoff, who has a Ph.D. in sports and exercise psychology and teaches at Minnesota State University, Mankato, has been studying a handful of Boston 2013 runners.

She has connected with people who have bounced back, and with some who are clearly still suffering and battling post-traumatic stress symptoms.

There are those who are still upset and have trepidation about returning to Boston.

“What I tell people is, everybody deals with it differently and had a different experience at the race,” she said. “I felt it took me a good three weeks to feel good again.”

Kamphoff had finished the race and was back in her hotel room when the explosions hit a couple blocks away.

“I didn’t know about the bombs, I didn’t want to go there in my mind,” said Kamp­hoff, who would watch the mayhem unfold from her hotel window.

Bursts of information through TV and social media added stress and confusion. “I kept thinking of the best-case scenario instead of the worst-case scenario.”

Now, more than a year later, Kamphoff said the mara­thoners’ mind-set makes them ideally suited to handle the emotions. “They’re achievers. They like structure. They follow through. They are dedicated people.”

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