Behind The Scenes

ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi motivated to run Boston Marathon again

ESPN NFL Analyst Tedy Bruschi is featured in Runner's World magazine. (Photo Courtesy of Runner's World)
ESPN NFL Analyst Tedy Bruschi is featured in Runner’s World magazine. (Photo Courtesy of Runner’s World)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The photo above is from the May 2014 edition of Runner’s World. ESPN’s Tedy Bruschi is profiled in the “I’m a Runner” feature.

NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi ran the Boston Marathon in 2012. Despite a brutally hot New England day, he finished the race with his wife, Heidi, in five hours and 26 minutes.

It was the first marathon Bruschi ever ran and he thought it was his last – until the Boston Marathon tragedy a year ago.

On Monday, Front Row will feature other ESPN employees who are planning to run in the Boston Marathon that day. ESPN bureau producer Andrea Pelkey, who was at home in Boston last year when the bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, plans to run. Marty Smith, ESPN’s lead NASCAR reporter who worked several years with Pelke at racetracks around the nation, also plans to run.

A group of runners representing Tedy’s Team – an organization Bruschi started in 2005 in partnership with the American Stroke Association – ran the race, as they’ve done for the past eight years. Many of the runners were on the course when the two bombs went off, and Bruschi himself was on the second floor of the Lenox Hotel near the finish line, tracking the progress of his group. He saw the first blast from the window and was in earshot of the second.

The members of Tedy’s Team were okay physically. Still, the events of that day had a profound impact on Bruschi and so many others.

A few weeks after the 2013 Boston Marathon, the three-time New England Patriots Super Bowl champion met with his running team. He made a commitment to train and run with them in 2014.

Before Bruschi joins 36,000 other runners on Monday – including a record 70-plus for Tedy’s Team – in the most anticipated Boston Marathon in history, he spoke with Front Row about the events of last year and his experience of running the famed Patriot’s Day road race.

What made you decide to run this year?
I’m always there for my team. I told them we’d all finish together [this] year. And I really want to do it just to show them how much I respect all the work that they put in for it. I know what they go through raising funds and how much they put their lives on hold training for a marathon. I understand the sacrifice from when I did it a couple of years ago. Even though I said I would never do it again, I thought this was a special time for our city and Tedy’s Team.

How much do you think about the marathon day last April?
I think about it a lot. I’ve been to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and visited some of the survivors. I’ve become close with the Richard family. Martin Richard was an eight-year-old who passed away [as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing]. I think about them a lot. I got to see the family at the Opening Day ceremonies for the Red Sox. I told them how I think about them all the time when I run. I think about Boston. I think about stroke survivors. I think about Tedy’s Team. I think about the bombings last year and I get an overwhelming sense of pride while I run and think about all that. That’s my main motivation this year. That helps me run.

What’s the feeling among Tedy’s Team entering this year’s marathon?
Everyone is excited to run again, but I think there is going to be a lot of emotions at the start and especially at the finish. There will be uncertainty. People are still going to remember, especially the ones that ran last year and people who were in Boston on that day. I can’t anticipate what it’s going to feel like for myself or for my running team but I have the same mantra that I adopted when I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro: ‘left, right, repeat’ over and over again.

How was your experience running two years ago?
I recall the heat – and my wife beating me by two seconds. She had a burst there at the end. We were holding hands and then she burst ahead, so head-to-head she’s got the best of me. We slowed down because of the heat that day. We finished in 5:26 and I’m hoping to improve my time. I’d like to get in the four-hour range. That’s my goal.

What was the best part of the race experience for you?
For the first mile and a half, I ran with headphones and then I took them off because it was like a stadium for 26.2 miles. I guess I’m lucky that people sort of recognized me. They screamed my name and cheered me on. One kid threw me a football from where he was watching the race from the street. I caught it and threw it back to him. The entire race is exciting. Each city and town you run through has a different vibe to it.

I look forward to seeing the Citgo sign because I know I’m almost there. I’ve run in Boston a lot this winter and I’ve run to that Citgo sign. When I get to that point, I have a little more than a mile to go so that’s the landmark to put my head down and run until I see it.

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