So many moments make up a marathon. All uniquely personal, but when looked at together they truly embody what it means to #BeBoston. Help Patrick reach his fundraising goals and make it his moment. 

For Patrick McMahon there was a time when running a marathon was an unattainable aspiration. Fast forward 8+ years, and he’s not sure what he’d do without the marathon

Run a marathon. It will change you. Run Boston for a charity. Be better in unimaginable ways.

I grew up chasing my brothers, both literally and figuratively. Backyard games, travel teams and high school sports. There was always competition in our lives. Always. Then, when I graduated from high school the competitor in me found a void that had never before existed. I wasn’t a member of a team anymore. That structured sports life I was used to? It vanished in an instant!

Luckily for me, I found myself in the heart of Boston. Take a look outside on any moderately nice day, and you’ll see what seems like millions of people actively moving around the city – running, biking, kayaking, you name it. Everything at your fingertips. It was around this time that I was introduced to the Boston Marathon. I didn’t have to search it out. It was just there. That’s the thing about Boston in April. You can’t avoid the buzz. It just grows louder and louder, until you’re forced to face it head on.

I guess I had waited to meet it long enough. Then, one Marathon Monday, I took it all in from a lawn on the Boston College campus; thousands of people making their way on an inconceivably long trek from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. I can remember that day vividly, or at least the pact I made that changed my life. One of my oldest friends and I decided, right then, to run that same ridiculous distance the very next year. Eight months later, a phone call from Susan Hurley, gave me an opportunity of a lifetime.

At the time, the distance felt daunting. The fundraising? Impossible. It may seem that way at first, but you tend to learn things along the way. You learn things about yourself – your mental make-up, your physical strengths, a few blemishes you can work on. You learn things about your support system too. All the good that comes from training your body to run a marathon? It’s so small in comparison to the good that comes from your family and friends supporting you throughout the process (despite them telling you you’re a little bit crazy).

This will be my ninth consecutive Boston. I’m lucky. Maybe it’s the ancestral Irish blood running through my veins. Maybe it’s life continuing to give me opportunity to grow. That first year, I was a novice in so many ways. New to long-distance running. New to fundraising. New to it all. I ran with about 30 other charity runners. This year I’m helping to guide twenty-six teams, and nearly 500 CharityTeams.com runners through that same process.

Just as the CharityTeams experience has grown, the race has also grown. Different events shape its history, making it what it is today. Many people are connected to Boston for a particular reason. Your connection is probably different than mine, but that makes it no less special. If one thing is certain, Boston doesn’t skimp on special. Obviously, the tragic events of 2013 have shaped this race. I can remember moments from that day vividly. Panic, fear and anxiety rushed into our lives without asking. We didn’t have a choice. That next year was hard for a lot reasons.

A long twelve months led to another opportunity – an opportunity to heal. For the first time in twenty-one years, an American man was crowned champion. Talk about special! The streets were lined with a record crowd, and Meb Keflezighi reclaimed the race for all of us. That year I also had a chance to start a healing process donned in a new singlet emblazoned with a simple, yet powerful message of “No more hurting people. Peace.” I remember moments from that year pretty vividly as well. Seeing those crowds, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The courage the runners, the fans, the city brought to the table that day…words cannot describe.

In 2014, I didn’t have a great race. It really was a tough day, both physically and emotionally. As I crossed the Beacon Street Bridge, heading into Kenmore Square, I was just drained. The woman that gave me my first opportunity to run Boston, my friend, Susan Hurley, came up beside me. On that day, we were both sporting ‘Team MR8’ singlets, both struggling at the end of our respective races. We were hurting, but we had each other. We were going to finish together! We made our way down Comm. Ave., took that right onto Hereford and left on to Boylston. We grabbed each other’s hands and crossed together, arms in the air.

Year after year, I look forward to that Boylston Street moment. Without a doubt, it is my favorite part of the course. My family is always near the finish line. I can give a high five to the Richard family sitting in the bleachers. I am very appreciative to have the opportunity to run this race, and am always so thankful to reach the finish line.

In 2014, we showed what #BostonStrong truly meant. This year, the #BeBoston campaign means continued strength and pride to me. I’m reminded of that #BostonStrong movement, and how we’ve continued to grow, and build from the events of 2013. Boston is known, at least locally, as ‘Titletown.’ It’s a home to so many champions on the professional sports scene. Each year, 30,000 personal championships are won on Patriots Day. People chase the unicorn year-after-year, and on that third Monday in April, you finally get a chance to catch one.

This year, I will be running the 2017 Boston Marathon with The Martin W. Charitable Foundation (Team MR8). This will be my fourth year in a row fundraising for Team MR8. Last year, at the team kickoff event, Bill Richards stated that this foundation allows Martin to live a full life. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this team once again.

I wasn’t kidding, the marathon changes you. For the better.

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