2014-05-02 / Front Page

EMT returns to Boston to ‘reclaim’ race

By Sean P. Milligan
Contributing Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – The scene that took place in Boston’s Copley Square on Patriots Day 2013 needs no description. People across the country stayed glued to their televisions looking for answers as the unsettling aftermath of the explosions unfolded.

Amongst the chaos around the Boston Marathon’s finish line was South Portland firefighter and paramedic Matt Cox. Cox was in town with his wife to watch their friend accomplish a lifelong dream of completing the 26.2-mile run through metro-Boston. She finished just eight min- utes before the first bomb went off.

“The first one was so loud that it shook the whole area and everybody stopped what they were doing and looked up,” said Cox, who said that his first thought was that the noise had come from a dump truck slamming its tailgate on the ground.

After the second explosion Cox said an ambulance and police officers went racing past his group, back toward the finish line. He knew something was wrong and called his mother back at home to get more information. She told him there had been a bombing.

After seeing his wife and their friend follow the evacuation route, Cox headed the opposite direction and got the attention of the first race official he could find. After showing his National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians card he was brought to the triage center where he spent the rest of the day helping injured victims.

Three hundred and sixty-three days after the death and capture of the Tsarnaev brothers, the Chechen siblings believed to be responsible for the bombing, 36,000 runners descended upon Boston to reclaim the marathon. The Boston Athletic Association made the decision to increase the number of participants for this year’s race by 9,000 due to the outpouring of public interest and to invite first responders like Cox back to the race.

Cox ran to raise money for Team MR8, a charity founded in memory of Martin Richard, an 8-yearold Boston native who was killed in the bombing. The charity will donate funds toward education, athletics and community, according to its website.

Cox, who has one previous marathon under his belt from a 2009 race in Oregon, trained through this past season’s brutal winter for the Race from Hopkinton, Massachusetts to Boston. Despite a nagging hamstring injury, he refused to let any obstacles get in the way of his goal.

April 21 had a “stronger” feeling than last year’s race, Cox said. He said the collective feeling from both runners and spectators made the race a powerful experience.

“Everybody keeps asking me what it was like,” he said. “I keep saying it was a 26 mile love fest. Beginning to end just crowds of people that were happy, loud and supportive. It was amazing.”

Despite a leg cramp limiting his stride from around the 21-mile mark on, the pain seemed to leave his body as he returned to Copley Square.

“That last mile was so powerful I just floated. I didn’t even feel a step.”

Even though the 2014 Boston Marathon has come and gone, Cox urges people to continue donating to the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation. Donations can still be made at Cox’s FirstGiving webpage: https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/matt-cox/ friends

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