Legendary long-distance runner Bill Rodgers got a heart-stopping jolt when he heard about the twin bomb blasts that shook the Boston Marathon — because his daughter Elise had been at the finish line.
“I got a call from a friend of mine whose husband was in the race saying there was a bomb explosion. I said, what? I just really didn’t believe it,’’ Rodgers told Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show.’’
“I thought there was some sort of a mistake with a car or something. I called my daughter right away. She was at the finish line and watched the winners come in, but she and some friends had gone down to the Boston Commons.
“She told me she did hear a loud explosion. … I thought, well this is for real.’’
Rodgers, who won the Boston and New York City marathons four times each between 1975 and 1980, said he is usually at the finish line of the Boston event, but had decided to stay home this year.
“I’m stunned and everyone’s stunned, but we live in unusual times. I’ve been out to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on numerous occasions and it reminds me kind of what just happened now,’’ he said.
Rodgers said the horrifying attack goes against the spirit of friendship and world peace the event stands for.
“Running is the kind of sport where everyone gets along. It doesn’t matter your race, religion, color, ... income — all these things fall by the wayside,’’ he said.
“There’s a global unity of runners and why they would pick the marathon, of course you figure there’s a large crowd there, so obviously someone’s trying to make a point.’’
He also issued a no-nonsense message to those who planted the explosives.
“You’re not going to stop us and you made a bad move and that’s as simple as that,’’ he said.
“It’s just an absurdity and shocking and to go after innocent bystanders, that’s a mark of a coward, you know?’’
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Rodgers insisted that marathoners will not be deterred from participating in future races.
“The race will go on. After 9/11 in New York City, marathoners came to New York a short while later in November and ran. That was their statement,’’ he said.
He revealed to Steve Malzberg that he was once the target of a death threat right before he ran the Boston Marathon for not supporting a boycott against the event.
“Someone said I wouldn’t make it through Kenmore Square. Well, I was in the lead and I was waiting for someone to come out because I was going to deck them,’’ Rodgers said.
“I’m a skinny little guy, but I’m pretty feisty and I just really feel seriously that everyone in America … stick together. I wouldn’t let those people stop me in a heartbeat. Not at all. Runners are very feisty people and they made a big mistake, these people.’’
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