Emma’s Boston bombing horror
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Marathon runner Emma Cameron was only a kilometre and a half from the finish line of the Boston Marathon when two explosions rocked the finish line stopping the world’s oldest continuous marathon race.
At first Ms Cameron, running as part of the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP), didn’t know what was happening. She only knew the runners ahead of her had stopped and she saw people crying.
“I was one and a half kilometres from the finish line and it was very distressing even though I hadn’t seen or heard anything,” Ms Cameron said.
“No one else was running. All the runners in front of me had just stopped, people were just crying and beside themselves so I knew something wasn’t right but I just didn’t know what.”
Emma later learned two bombs had exploded among spectators at the finish line. It was at this location Ms Cameron was expecting to catch up with IMP officials and supporters.
“When I had heard that the bomb had gone off at the finish line I knew that Rob (de Castella) and (trainer) Tim (Rowe) and some of the IMP supporters would have been around that area so I started to panic,” she said.
“I didn’t know if they were okay and then I didn’t know exactly where I was or what I was going to do next because I didn’t have anything on me,” Ms Cameron said.
Back home in Darwin this week, Ms Cameron told the National Indigenous Times while she was the sole IMP representative, marathon runners the world over are like a community.
“Of course it’s hard to be on your own but I think when you are running in events like this it doesn’t matter so much because it’s easy to talk to other runners because everyone’s so friendly, we’re out there doing the same thing,” she said.
“Even though I was the only IMP runner everyone was very supportive, so that helped.”
Emma Cameron cannot see the bombing of the Boston Marathon stopping her in her tracks because those tracks lead to her goals, goals she is still determined to reach.
“Obviously this was a one-off thing so it kind of makes me more determined to continue on with my goal which is to finish a marathon,” Emma said.
“I guess with life you always get obstacles in your way and you never know when and so this is just another obstacle for myself and other people as well.
“You can’t let things like this get in the way of living your life,” she said.
“I guess it’s just another situation that has happened in life and it definitely tests your spirit and will. Obviously it was really difficult at the time but I’m still committed to doing what I want to achieve. I’m not going to stop.”
Like all IMP runners, Ms Cameron originally went into the program with a larger aim in life than running till you drop.
“The reason I wanted to do it was I wanted to inspire the younger children, my younger cousins, nieces and nephews and family because I know that it’s easy to do what everyone else is doing but it’s harder to try something new,” she said. “I want them to know it’s okay to dream big and try different things.
“It’s easy to tell someone but unless you’re actually doing it yourself it’s probably not going to make any sense,” Ms Cameron said.
“I know when you’re young you tend to look up to people in your life who are older and doing things and it doesn’t have to be running a marathon, it can be anything,” she said.
Emma Cameron wants people to look at what she has done, what she has been through and to take inspiration from that.
“What’s hard is trying to do something when not anyone else is doing it or not many people are doing it because it’s so strange and it takes courage to try and do something different which other people may not understand.”
Indigenous Marathon Project founder, Rob de Castella who won the Boston Marathon in 1986, said the race was a vehicle for pursuing dreams and runners should not let an attack like that in Boston take away that freedom to dream.
“It’s important for us to have our dreams and have the freedom and confidence to pursue our dreams,” he said.
“You can never eliminate all risk but it is important for IMP to review our procedures and manage them and minimise any risk because of the duty of care that we have to our runners.”
Since its inception in 2010 IMP has taken young Indigenous Australians from all over the country to marathons overseas.
“We’ve done three marathons in New York, three in Boston and one in Tokyo and nothing like this has ever happened before and it’s unlikely to ever happen again,” deer Castella said.
“But the reality is it’s a crazy world and there’s always a risk associated with stuff and we have to make sure we’re managing that to the best of our ability.”
And support for the Indigenous Marathon Project came quickly in the wake of the horror that took place in Boston.
“I had a beautiful e-mail from the mum of Caleb Hart who came with us in 2010 and Caleb’s mum Ruth said ‘don’t you dare stop IMP, don’t let this stop IMP because our young people need it’,” Mr de Castella.
While nobody would ever want to be in a situation like the one Emma Cameron experienced, Rob de Castella believes it can actually be a fortifying experience.
“I think it can be. All difficult things in life, when you came through them they make you stronger. Even looking at Emma, the way she has handled this she seems to have matured just in a few days, the way she’s conducted herself and handled herself,” he said.
de Castella believes the Boston race “will come back bigger and better than ever”.
“Obviously the security is always a major concern and it’s been a concern at all the championship marathons ever since the terrorist actions in Munich, so it’s always a risk that we live with these days but the event is such an incredible event,” he said.
“Over 70 countries were represented, it brings together people doing something special and wonderful and talking to so many runners after the race, they all committed to come back, the organisers are committed to making sure that it’s bigger and better next time.”