'It becomes part of your fabric'
You can see the light in Jim Driscoll's deep blue eyes when he talks about his love for Boston and its marathon. You can see storm clouds gathering, too.
Having lined up for every running since 1988, his is a life intertwined with the event. He flashes back to the constant of his wife, Leslie, cheering from the same corner, April after April, near the finish; to his son Adam's presence as a boy; to lasting friendships made; to the enthusiasm of a proud city.
Driscoll and his wife had returned to their nearby hotel room and were unaware of the attacks until a close friend called to see if they were OK. "It just hit me like a sledgehammer," he remembered.
"Once you've done that race, it becomes part of your fabric, your DNA. … How could someone do this to such a phenomenal, world-class event that gives people the opportunity to accomplish their goals and dreams and adds fulfillment to their lives?"
Driscoll's consecutive streak at Boston has made him a member of the marathon's quarter-century club (at least 25 consecutive races). A friend of Driscoll's, Bill Langevin, 65, of St. Paul also is a member.
For Driscoll, this is part of a broader pursuit: 100 marathons. "It's a slow-motion goal that has unfolded over many, many years. Then, in the midst of this tragedy … none of this other stuff matters now."
Driscoll said the grief he felt immediately after the bombings has welled up anew. He will pay tribute to a city and its victims and expects the huge field to do the same.
The attack was "a personal affront" — but this year's race won't be about the runners.
"That's not just me," he said. "It's going to be that way for thousands and thousands of people.
"It will be a small consolation for the city of Boston and those families and individuals that were affected. … That is why I am going to be there, for them."