Emotions will run high for Mark Porter ahead of his 26-mile re-run of the Boston Marathon course on Patriots Day in Massachussetts. A cancer survivor and eight-year veteran of the Boston Marathon, Porter, is one of nearly 6,000 athletes who have been invited back to the world’s oldest road race after two bombs went off, killing three and injuring more than 250 at last year’s event on April 15.
Porter was heading towards the final 4 miles of the popular marathon when the streets started to empty of spectators and the sound of sirens started to permeate the air.
Recalling the confusion on the course soon after the explosions, the Donegal native says, “At the time, we didn’t notice the increased police or armed National Guard presence.”
Joined by his daughter, Katie for the last remaining miles of the marathon, the pair was heading toward the final hill on the route when they received a text which informed them of the events that were unfolding on Boylston Street. A police officer they met confirmed the terrible news.
Having been advised to keep going, the father – daughter duo ran until mile 24 when with heavy hearts, they cut their race short.
Speaking about the events that took place at the 2013 marathon, Porter says “What should of been a wonderful day was marred by those bombings. It is still hard to believe."
Originally from Inishowen in the North West of Ireland, he has been living in America for over twenty years. Remarking on how the Boston community reacted to the bombings, Mark says “The true spirit of Boston shone through that day. It made me tremendously proud to be part of such a great city.”
Porter was not at all surprised to see how the city's residents rallied together in his adopted home of Boston in the aftermath of the explosions.
In March 2005, the family man was diagnosed with cancer. As he lay in a hospital bed contemplating his future, Porter vowed that if he made a full recovery he would do his best to live each day to its fullest and to pay it forward. Speaking about his diagnosis, Mark says “It was a life changing day for me. What I took for granted no longer was a given -- it now was a blessing.”
Nine years later, he is healthy, happy and cancer-free. Mark has also kept his promise to pay it forward.
Since his cancer went into remission in 2005, Mark has worked tirelessly to organize various events throughout the city of Boston to help raise funds for cancer research. His efforts have been continuously supported by the city’s community and together a total of $250,000 has been raised for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston's Children Hospital.
Speaking about his astounding fundraising success, Mark says “It’s amazing. It is the continued generosity and help from the Boston community. They always rally together in times of great need and their willingness to help in any way has helped me raise these much needed funds.”
One way he has raised this phenomenal amount of money is to take part in the 26.2 mile city race from Hopkinton to Downtown Boston every year since his cancer diagnosis.
This year, Mark is once again taking his place at the starting line to run for those that can’t. His fundraising efforts this year will focus on a new charity called ‘Let’s stop Cancer’ (LSCNOW.ORG).
LSCNOW was set up to provide practical support and direct financial aid to cancer patients and their families. Speaking about the charities’ mission, Porter a co-founder says “Not only are they fighting their illness but also worrying about providing for their family – a need that has been overlooked.
Despite last year's horrific ordeal, the seasoned runner is looking forward to taking part in his ninth consecutive Marathon Monday,saying " It is an important day for the city and it will be extremely emotional for all of us.”
He further added “first surviving Cancer and then being a witness to the events of the Boston Bombings has reminded me how it is so important to live to the best of our abilities and to enjoy life every day.”
To support Mark or learn more about this charity please visit LSCNOW.ORG.
Here's a moving video of Mark Porter's marathon in 2013: