Justin and Kirsten Mosbys first trip to last year’s Boston Marathon left such a lasting memory that the Radford couple is preparing to make a return trip to compete again this year.
Many will remember the events that unfolded April 15, 2013 when a pair of bombs exploded along the marathon route killing three people and injuring more than 260 others.
The Mosbys, who were competing in their first Boston Marathon, had completed the race when the bombs exploded.
“The bomb appears to have gone off at the 4-hour and 9-minute mark. We finished at the 3 hour mark and the 3 hour and 48 minute mark, so we both were away from the finish line,” said Justin. “Because of the design of the finish, once you go through the finish line there is no real way to get back to that area. You are picking up your medal, food, the insulated blanket, water and so on. You then head towards the buses that have your belongings.”
“We were a couple of blocks away in the Boston Commons,” added Kirsten.
Although they weren’t injured, the couple was in shock.
“We were very fortunate not to be injured. We were in shock. We just couldn’t believe it was happening. It was a very surreal experience,” said Kirsten.
The Mosbys had nothing but high praise for the people of Boston.
“The people of Boston were tremendously helpful,” Justin explained. “We were unable to get to our car because it was parked underground. Fortunately, our family was able to go online and see that we had both crossed the finish, otherwise they didn’t know where we were at. Many people offered for us to use their cell phones. However, none of the phones worked because the signals were so terrible.
“Eventually hotels began opening their lobbies and conference rooms up to bystanders because law enforcement asked to clear the streets and get to safe places. We stayed at the Parker House in downtown Boston for several hours until family could come and get us. We finally made it out of the city around 7:30 p.m. The hotel offered folks a place to shower, use their phones and had water and snacks for everyone. Both of us were physically and emotionally spent, and they were a tremendous help in getting us in touch with our family.”
His wife echoed the same thoughts.
“The people of Boston were amazing! Complete strangers asking us if we were okay, offering us money, letting us use their phones, and of course the Omni Parker House Hotel allowing us to come in and get warm. That is where we were finally able to call our families and let them know we were safe,” Kirsten added.
With the 2014 Boston Marathon right around the corner, the Mosbys can be spotted running the streets of Radford as they train for the April 21 race.
“Right now, we both kind of work our schedule,” said Justin. “Kirsten participates in Radford Crossfit owned by Foster Ridpath several days a week. She then mixes in mileage four or five days a week as well. We both try and do our long runs on Saturday and Sunday. We have two girls at home — Audrey and Cora — neither is old enough to be left at the house by themselves, so we split days for long runs.
“Right now, we are focused more on increasing mileage, and then we will probably focus more on time on our feet, working our way up to three-hour-long runs. We will stop with those about two weeks out from the race. We also mix in tempo runs. I have also gotten into resistance training. It helps with balance and strengthening secondary muscle groups in my legs.”
Both Justin and Kirsten, who have also ran in the Nashville Marathon, met while running cross-country for Radford University.
When asked why they’re returning to Boston this year, Justin said. “My wife and I are pretty competitive and feel like we can both run faster than we did before, so there is somewhat of a desire to best our time. However, we both wanted to be a positive example of support for all the good that goes at Boston. For the entire race, hundreds of thousands of people are cheering you on, providing drinks and food and supporting you in many other ways. So we wanted to show our appreciation. Secondly, we wanted to find an organization in Boston that makes an impact on the community and help raise funds for them.”
The Mosbys will be involved with Mosby’s Run 4 Michael while in Boston.
“Kirsten and I for a number of years supported organizations and programs here locally that provided services to individuals with disabilities,” Justin said. “We volunteered for close to 10 years with the Area Nine Special Olympics. This past summer while working as a counselor/coach at the Blue Ridge Running Camp at Eastern Mennonite University, I ran into the sister of the founder of the Michael Lisnow Respite Center. She put me in touch with her sister and things evolved from there.
“The respite care center provides families who care for individuals a break. Whether it is for child care for 0-3 year olds or day programming for school aged children or overnight stays they give families a much needed break. Often care for these individuals is 24-hour care, and it becomes a lot to manage year in and year out. The founder had a son with several profound disabilities that ultimately took his life at age 10.”
Kirsten added, “Justin really initiated this, and we are so honored to be helping this organization this year. Again, it is not just about us running 26.2 miles, but us helping others and running for a greater cause.”
The Boston Marathon has a special meaning for the Mosbys.
“As big as the race is, and this year there will be 14 thousand more runners, 37 thousand in total, and as funny as it sounds, it is has a tangible community feeling to it. It is like running through Lane Stadium during a football game but stringing 500 thousand people out over 26 miles,” Justin explained. “It is so loud at times, it gets hard to focus on pace and stride.”
“This one particularly will mean a great deal for the both of us. Even though we weren’t physically affected, it was an emotional roller coaster for us. At the time, the situation was very tense. We were exhausted, couldn’t get to our car, couldn’t call family, could get warm or dry cloths and for the most part felt isolated. If the people in the hotel or on the streets weren’t as kind as there were, it would have been very overwhelming. So we both feel like going back is a way to show thanks. We were able to leave and come back to a safe place fairly quickly. [Boston] had to continue to live in fear for many, many days.”
Kirsten added, “Last year it meant accomplishment — making it through training and crazy schedules to just get there and run. This year, it means standing strong, coming together as one big family and giving back. There are a lot of good people out there, and we saw that first hand last year.”