Justin Compton was fairly certain that his days of running the Boston Marathon, or any other marathon for that that matter, were over.
The Mount Ida College Biology Professor is no stranger to running the Boston Marathon. Having completed his first marathon in 2007 alongside his wife, Compton caught the marathon bug, completing three more marathons leading up to 2013 Boston Marathon.
“My wife has a long history with the Boston Marathon and in 2007, we decided to run it together,” noted Compton. “The history associated with it and the culture around it – it’s an overall great event to be a part of. There is nothing more energizing than Patriot’s Day and Marathon Monday.”
However, shortly after Compton crossed the Boston Marathon finish line in 2013, completing his fourth marathon, he instantly knew that something was horrifically wrong.
“I can still hear the sounds, they are just as vivid today as a year ago,” Compton recounted. “Having completed the Marathon numerous times before, I knew that amazing feeling of finishing well. But this time, the ‘runners high’ was so fleeting. I never really savored in my physical and mental victory because the bombs went off within moments of my crossing the finish line. Reality and a deep sense of dread and panic set in as my mind focused solely on locating my family and insuring their safety.”
After learning the tragic details surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings, Compton was unsure that he would ever run the marathon again. It wasn’t until last November when Compton began to develop the motivation to once again run the marathon, and it had nothing to do with personal gain.
“A part of me thought I could do it again and I didn’t want to just do it, I wanted to do it for a cause,” stated Compton.
It was at that time that Compton came across The Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation (Team MR8), a charitable organization established in honor of 8-year-old Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard.
The Foundation’s mission is “to honor Martin’s message of ‘No more hurting people – peace’ by investing in education, athletics and community.”
“I knew I wanted to be a part of Team MR8,” said Compton who filled out the 11-page application online, joining a team of 72 runners from diverse backgrounds and locations. “I did not know the Martin family personally, but I wanted to do something, anything that I could possibly do to help honor Martin’s message.”
Compton continued, “I was forever changed by what happened last April. I and my family never met Martin, but he is now a meaningful part of our lives. Being a part of a team with a mission, camaraderie and more importantly, promoting Martin’s message of peace –provides a deep and fulfilling motivation that is all I need to compete.”
For Compton, the Boston Marathon is one of the purest community events.
“The race is amazing. You have athletes, runners fundraising for different organizations and charities, the volunteers, the folks at the BAA and the people who come out to cheer – it’s the mix of all those things. Where else do you find a collection of all people interacting in the true spirit of community? That’s why the marathon is truly amazing to me.”
Embracing the spirit of community and support is something that Compton holds near and dear in his everyday life and career. Beginning his teaching career at Mount Ida in 2009, Compton sees the importance and impact of showing you care each and every day with his students.
“At Mount Ida, I enjoy the interaction with my students the most. Taking an interest in their lives, forming connections and letting students know you care is sometimes just enough to help them along their way,” said Compton. “Teaching gives me the opportunity to support my students and their future endeavors in a way that mirrors how Martin saw the world: that anything is possible.”
For Compton, April 21, 2014 is a day that will not only mark his sixth Boston Marathon; it will mark his most important marathon.
“I firmly believe that my running as a part of Team MR8 is my tribute to honor a remarkable young man whose life was tragically cut short and yet continues to inspire and provide meaning to all.”
For more information on the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation Inc., please visit the following webpage.