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Mayeses Return to Boston One Year after Marathon Bombing

April 17, 2014

Karen Mayes  
Karen Mayes

The roles of distance runner and spectator will be reversed this year for Karen Mayes, director of nursing education at St. Louis Community College, and her husband Howard, who will attend the 118th running of the Boston Marathon April 21.

Karen will be running this year, and Howard, who is retired from teaching at STLCC, will be cheering her on from the sidelines.

Because he has been hampered by several physical setbacks during the past year, Karen received an invitational entry from the Boston Athletic Association to take Howard’s place.

“I wish Howard was running because he really earned the privilege by running a qualifying time, and that is extremely hard to do,” she said. “Since he can’t run it this year, I am excited I get to.”

On April 15, 2013, Howard Mayes crossed the finish line on Boylston Street when the first of two bombs exploded. Mayes, who was wearing lime green T-shirt and white cap, was seen in video footage and on countless newscasts. They were not harmed, but affected by the tragedy nonetheless. Three people were killed and more than 260 were wounded as a result of the explosions.

Then 62, Howard had completed the prestigious marathon in 4:09:34. It should have been a shining moment, after all the training and because of what the most famous race means to athletes. His 49th career marathon became historic for reasons far beyond anyone’s comprehension.

The first blast took place a mere 20 yards away from where he stood. He tried to reach Karen, who was on the other side of the street, not far from the finish line, but couldn’t get through on the cellphone. They eventually found each other, 20 minutes later, frantic and relieved.

The Mayeses, who live in St. Charles, have been interviewed by several media outlets recently. Their reflections on returning to Boston have been noted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They also were interviewed by Roche Madden of Fox 2 News on Tuesday, April 15.

Howard will be featured in the documentary “5 Runners,” filmed by the Boston Globe. The second half of the documentary will be completed this summer, Karen said.

After running three marathons following last year’s Boston Marathon, Howard experienced some heart problems. A pacemaker was installed, and then he was finally cleared to run. But he injured a foot, then a knee, and had to rest. He has set his sights on running the Boston Marathon in the future.

"I am thrilled Howard has a new goal of running it again,” Karen said.

This year, however, it is Karen’s turn to take part in the world’s oldest marathon. About 36,000 runners are expected to take to the streets, including approximately 4,500 who were prevented from finishing in 2013.

“The Boston Marathon to me is like a Ph.D., Emmy Award, Academy Award, Nobel Prize, World Series championship, Super Bowl championship, America's Cup championship, and an Olympic gold medal,” she said.