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For ESPN bureau producer, Boston Marathon hit home

ESPN bureau producer Andrea Pelkey was at home in Boston last year when the bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, only a few blocks from where she lives.

Smith Supports Pelkey’s Marathon Run

Andrea Pelkey and Marty Smith (Photo courtesy of Andrea Pelkey)
Andrea Pelkey and Marty Smith (Photo courtesy of Andrea Pelkey)

Marty Smith, ESPN’s lead NASCAR reporter, is solidly in the corner of his former producer Andrea Pelkey as both prepare to run in the Boston Marathon.

“I think it’s going to be tough on her and everybody there,” said Smith. “I don’t think any of us are prepared for the emotional aspect of it. But for her it’s going to be a different level.

“I’m really proud of her,” he said. “I think it’s going to be really cathartic and therapeutic for her to experience it and to be cheered. She’s long been someone who cheered, and I think it’s fantastic that she’s going to be cheered.”

She heard both explosions. From her window, she could see smoke billowing and then a group of people running toward her building. She knew something was terribly wrong.

After calling family members to assure them she was ok, Pelkey called the ESPN assignment desk and went to work. For the rest of the week, she helped produce ESPN’s on-site coverage of the aftermath of the bombing.

Now, one year later, Pelkey is going to see the famous race from another angle: as a competitor.

“There’s a sentiment throughout the city among those of us who live here that ‘no, that’s not going to work for us, we’re going to have to come back stronger than ever,’” said Pelkey, who is racing for a local charity, Healthworks Community Fitness.

The idea to race came from co-worker Marty Smith, ESPN’s lead NASCAR reporter, whom Pelkey worked closely with for the past seven years at racetracks around the country. Their birthdays are one day apart, with Smith’s falling on April 15, the day of last year’s bombing, and Pelkey’s on April 16.

“Marty texted me to make sure I was alright as did a lot of my co-workers in the NASCAR world,” Pelkey said. “And then Marty’s next text was ‘You and I are going to run that race next year.’”

There was a time she would never even dream of such an undertaking, but Smith and other co-workers were supportive as Pelkey worked to get healthier and fit. Her charity, which provides health classes and fitness equipment for women and after-school programs in Boston’s Dorchester area, is a natural tie.

“I really think this charity and I found each other for a reason,” she said. “I was probably 80 pounds overweight 3-4 years ago, and I just decided to make a lifestyle change, and not only did it make me feel better physically, but emotionally and mentally, it makes me have so much more energy. I want people to know that this change is possible.”

Video produced by Josh Lander

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