Tara Burr admittedly had a rough 2017, and that is why running at the Boston Marathon on Monday will be such a big lift for her.
First, Burr had a pelvis stress fracture last February and missed six months of running.
Then Burr, 39, of Eau Claire and her husband, Ryan, attended the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, and were in the crowd watching country singer Jason Aldean perform when shots suddenly rang out, seemingly from everywhere.
“No words can explain the trauma that happened to us that night,” Burr said. “It is only a miracle we are alive today and continue to process all the aspects of that event. Sounds I can’t forget, images that will never leave me. And now seeing the map of where bodies of the dead lay and knowing exactly where we were standing, right in the midst of it. The tragedy you think only happens in movies, or war, happened to us.”
Burr said it has been a difficult six months, trying to heal from that event.
“It’s something that will probably take a lifetime,” she said. “But we are healing. And running, of course, is a huge part of that. We ran for our lives to escape the gunfire. And now I am running for my life, to put back together all the pieces that have been so broken.”
Burr said she is grateful for every breath she takes and every morning she wakes up.
“And when I run, I’m so thankful for every step,” she said. “I feel like a new person, with new eyes. I am so thankful for the gift of running. God rescued us that day, I have no doubt, and He continues to heal my broken spirit.”
Monday will be Burr’s 18th overall marathon and third Boston Marathon, after competing in 2006 and 2014. She wants to honor the memories of the 58 people who died at that concert.
“I will be thinking about each of them and their families as I run in Boston on Monday,” Burr said.
She added: “No matter what, I’ll be the one crossing the finish line with a big smile. In a new way, running for my life, truly thankful for every step.”
About two dozen people from across western Wisconsin have signed up for the race, which features 27,000 runners. Boston Marathon competitors qualify based on a combination of their time, age and gender.
After years of hard work and persistence, Susan Rud has finally qualified for the Boston Marathon.
“I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to qualify,” she said.
Rud, 45, of Mondovi, had a series of unfortunately timed illnesses as she tried to earn her way into the prestigious race. She competed in the Whistlestop Marathon in Ashland in October 2016, but came down with the flu a week before it, and she bowed out at mile 8. At Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., last June, she woke up sick that morning, and dropped out at mile 16.
“I sounded like Kermit the Frog,” she said.
Rud wouldn’t give up on her dream of reaching the big race. In September, she finished the No Frills Marathon in Minoqua in 3 hours, 47 minutes. For her age and gender, she needed a 3:55 to qualify.
“It was a (personal record) for me by about a minute,” Rud said.
Rud said it took a bit for her to let it sink in that she achieved her goal.
“It was kind of surreal because I was working on it for so long,” Rud said. “I couldn’t wrap my head around that.”
Rud kept training and working to improve.
“I changed up my training plan, and I started doing intervals,” she said. “It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it paid off.”
Rud is proud that she achieved her fastest-ever time, just months before turning 45.
“I’m fighting my age, with everything I’ve got,” Rud said. “I look at people my age, and they aren’t able to do what I can do.”
Rud said she’s ready for the big race on Monday, but she is battling a minor foot injury so she’s not going to push too hard.
“I just want to enjoy every experience,” Rud said.”I’ve been able to get in a couple of long runs, so I don’t have any concerns about finishing.”
Rud has gotten outside to train as much as she could this winter. She frequently meets a running group on Saturdays in Eau Claire.
“It’s been icy and we’ve had some slips and falls, but that’s running in Wisconsin,” she said. “Except for the two weeks we were below zero (degrees), I’ve been outside. I try to avoid the treadmill.”
Randy Aumann, 52, of Loyal is going to Boston for his fourth time — and third in four years. He already has a qualifying time for 2019 and plans to go back again next year.
“I love running Boston — it’s just a fun race,” Aumann said. “You have to qualify to get there; you have to earn it to get it. It’s a pretty race with a lot of history.”
Aumann also said he isn’t going to push for his best time.
“This one is just to finish it,” he said.
Darren Standorf, 43, of rural Elk Mound, is returning for his fifth time. It’s a trip he always looks forward to taking, and he wants to go every chance he can while he keeps qualifying.
“It’s the greatest marathon in the United States,” Standorf said. “It’s iconic. It’s a huge draw. It’s just great running.”
Standorf, who qualified with a 2:59 in Marquette, Mich., said he still gets butterflies in his stomach at the Boston Marathon start line.
“There is something different about it, because it is a historic event,” Standorf said. “You work so hard to get there.”
Area participants in the Boston Marathon
Eau Claire: Laura Hickok, 46; Leslie Johnson, 60; Michelle Reynolds, 37; Sarah Crawford, 40; Christine Berenz, 22; Catherine Lee, 39; David Lombardo, 57; Dene Schiefer, 41; Tara Burr, 39.
Cumberland: Steve Anderson, 48.
Elk Mound: Stephanie Cloutier, 27; Darren Standorf, 43.
Hudson: Jacob Brickner, 30; Susan Frye, 48; Suzanne Ferrara, 40; Dewain Wasson, 56.
Loyal: Randy Aumann, 52.
Menomonie: Katie Kramschuster, 34.
Mondovi: Susan Rud, 45; Aaron Hass, 38.
New Richmond: Tiffany Leavens, 50; Nancy Doar, 55; Aimee Brugler, 48; Dan Wells, 56.
Rice Lake: James Willert, 71.
River Falls: Catherine Cumming, 27.