The North Bend Eagle


MarathonTodd Ziettlow waves as he starts the Boston Marathon last Monday (April 21, 2014).

Ziettlow enjoys atmosphere in return to Boston Marathon

by Lincoln Arneal
Published 4/30/14

A year ago, Todd Ziettlow was teaching his math class on an otherwise normal Monday afternoon when he received a text message from a friend.

“Aren’t you glad you didn’t do Boston this year?”

Initially puzzled by the message, Ziettlow, who ran the marathon in 2012, quickly learned that a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing three people and injuring more than 260.

The tragedy didn’t deter Ziettlow from making a return trip. He said he was already had begun to plan a return trip in 2014 and if anything, the tragedy strengthened his resolve to go back.

Last Monday, Ziettlow completed his second Boston Marathon in a time of 3:01:36.

Marathon memorialThis year's Boston Marathon included memorials like the one above to honor those affected by last year's terrorist attack.

Ziettlow said the race this time was much more enjoyable because of a number of factors, including the weather, having his family with him and the unifying mantra of Boston Strong.

“I figured it would be a neat year to go back and I knew they would do some neat things to honor those that had been injured or killed in the attacks,” Ziettlow said. “I kind of already thought in the back of my mind that I wanted to go back because the timing worked out, but I wasn’t nervous.”

Ziettlow said the calendar played the biggest role in his return. Because the race was Easter weekend, North Bend Central didn’t have school on Friday and Monday, which allowed Ziettlow to miss fewer days of work.

This year, more than 36,000 runners registered for the race, which was the second largest in its history. The Boston Globe estimated that more than a million people lined the 26.2-mile course, which is twice the normal amount.
In 2012, the hot weather made the race much more difficult and after 17 miles, Ziettlow’s body began to break down. Because he felt so miserable during the race, Ziettlow said he had a difficult time comparing the crowd at this year’s race to two years ago. He said security was more present and controlled access to race areas more tightly.

“The crowds were just incredible from Hopkinton all the way to downtown Boston,” Ziettlow said. “The closer you get to Boston the more people there are.”

Ziettlow said each town has its own way to celebrate the race. For example, the students at the all-women’s school in Wellesley scream and hold up signs asking for kisses. Other spectators offered beer and cigarettes to the runners.

Ziettlow’s mother, Linda, who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer in 2012 and couldn’t travel, joined Ziettlow this year along with his wife, Caryn, and son, Zander.

Ziettlow’s family accompanied him to the starting line where they saw him off. They saw him again at Mile 23 and then after the finish. Ziettlow said he didn’t see his family on the course, but never felt alone. While he was waiting for his wave to start, Ziettlow wore an old Huskers sweatshirt, which became an easy conversation starter.

“People talk to you because you’re from Nebraska,” he said. “You meet so many people from all over the country. You talk to someone from California, Washington, Nevada and Kansas. Everybody is a friend when they see you on street beforehand.”

Ziettlow had similar experiences with the locals in the days around the race. Everywhere they went, Ziettlow said help was always available and the locals were willing to help. On one occasion, after a cab didn’t show up in a timely manner, Ziettlow and his family received a tour from an elderly man in his local neighborhood before he dropped them off at their hotel.

In addition to the race, the Ziettlows toured Boston during their trip. They walked the Freedom Trail, went to Fenway Park and visited their fair share of local restaurants.

Ziettlow has now completed five marathons – Boston twice, Lincoln twice and Quad Cities in Iowa. Before this year’s Boston Marathon, he thought he was going to hang up his running shoes, but now he isn’t so sure.

“After running it this time, the atmosphere was so incredible,” he said. “You get hooked and think that it would be fun to go back again. And looking at the calendar, in 2017, Easter is same weekend as Boston again.”

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