‘They picked on the wrong people’ Amherst, Milford runners determined to take back Boston Marathon

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Staff Writer

Everyone runs marathons for their own reasons – for health, for charity, for fun, for a combination of all three. This year, runners who are returning to the Boston Marathon say they have an extra incentive.

Paul Joyce will run his 14th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21. In 2013, the Milford High School culinary arts teacher was among the thousands of runners who were stopped before they could finish after the two bombs went off.

“I think it will be a very emotional year,” Joyce said in a phone interview last week. “When you’re running for a charity, you think about that and this year, I will also be thinking about the innocent people who were killed and injured.”

Joyce runs for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Some of the runners who couldn’t finished Boston took part in a relay race in June that started in Los Angeles. Joyce and about 600 other runners met at Newton, Mass. City Hall and ran the last eight-mile Boston Marathon route.

“There were a lot of tears at the finish line,” he said.

Extra security planned for this year’s marathon will likely mean people will not be able to join runners near the finish line, a long tradition that helped runners gain extra strength to push on.

Joyce has fond memories of his 7-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter doing that years ago.

“We were all angry that something like this happened,” he said, but that’s not spoiling the experience this year. “I want to enjoy myself and keep the spirit of the Boston Marathon alive.”

David Salvas, of Amherst, crossed the finish line 90 seconds before the first bomb went off. The 64-year-old Souhegan track coach is looking forward to running in Boston with a spirit of determination.

“I want to take back our roads,” he said in a phone interview last week. “I want to show … whoever … you can’t stop us from doing what we love to do.”

This will be Salvas’ 87th marathon – he has run them in Ireland, Florida, California – and his 20th Boston Marathon.

He started running in 1979, when he was in his 20s, to get his health back.

“I almost had my own zip code I was so big,” he likes to say. “I couldn’t breathe … I used to watch the Boston Marathon on TV with a cigarette in my hand and say, ‘I could do that.’”

Salvas is on the volunteer committee that’s helping plan security and he said many things have changed this year, and there are other changes that some people won’t be expecting.

It’s no surprise that all backpacks will be searched, but there is a rumor that backpacks won’t be allowed, and it’s not true, said Salvas, but nearly “everything has changed, except the course.”

Boston College students won’t be high-fiving runners along the route, for example. The clothes runners used to leave at the starting line in Hopkinton will be given to charity. In years past, they were delivered to a collection spot.

There will be no camel-packs of water allowed, only small fanny-packs.

Greg Earley, of Amherst, started running for the Melanoma Foundation of New England after his wife, Kathy, was diagnosed with stage 3 skin cancer in 2007.

He’ll run his seventh consecutive Boston Marathon on Patriots’ Day with his daughter, Erin.

“As long as the Melanoma Foundation is around, I’ll keep on running,” he said.

Kathy is doing well. She’s also a runner and ran a half marathon on the Seacoast a few weeks ago.

Also among the runners – 36,000 of them are expected – will be Jack Danhof, of Milford, who ran his first Boston Marathon last year. He was stopped at the 25.5 mile point – and is looking forward to this race with “nervous anticipation,” he said.

He started running five years ago to lose weight and get in shape and running has changed his life, he said.

After the Milford Pumpkin Festival’s 5K in 2009, which he ran with his daughter, Rachel, he “had a ball and became really hooked on running.”

One of the things he loves about running, he said, is that you’re part of “a little subculture.”

And it’s as subculture of people who don’t give up easily and don’t shrink from challenges.

By attacking the Boston Marathon, Danhof said, “They picked on the wrong group.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@

NOTICE: We use the Facebook commenting system. For more information, read our Comment Policy

Find us on Facebook