A Buncrana man who ran last week’s Boston Marathon has described the experience as “inspiring.”
Mark Porter, who emigrated to America over 20 years ago from Inishowen, was one of almost 40,000 competitors on the streets of Boston last Monday.
This year’s marathon was particularly poignant after the devastating bomb attack on last year’s event.
It was Mark’s ninth and he has helped raise over 250,0000 dollars for charity in that time.
This year, he ran in aid of his own charity, ‘Let’s Stop Cancer.’ Mark was diagnosed with cancer nine years ago.
Speaking to the Journal from his Boston home, he disclosed how all the participants “were like one big family” at last week’s marathon.
He said: “It was an unbelievable experience. It always is, but everyone was just so happy to be a part of it.
“There were 36,400 registered runners and over one million people lined the course. Many people were very emotional, as you could understand. One of the charities which made a lot of noise this year was called MR8. It was set up in memory of little Martin Richards, who was killed in last year’s bombing. They raised over a million dollars. I don’t want to sound cliched, but when you see that sort of thing, it is inspiring. Everyone was out there - old, young, fat and thin. They were there because they wanted to do something good.”
Mark completed the marathon in five hours and 50 minutes. He joked how “the Olympic runners won’t be too worried about me anyway.”
“All I wanted to do was finish, so I was delighted,” he said.
“As I ran towards the finish line, I did think to myself: “This is where it happened last year.”
Mark told how he and his daughter were at “mile 20” last year when they found out something had happened on the course.
“At around mile 23, all these ambulances and police cars sped past it, sirens blaring,” he said.
“We knew then something really bad had happened. I saw a cop and asked him what had happened. He told me there had been a bomb. We knew then to just go back.”
Mark said the “true spirit of Boston” shone through after the bombing, which made him “proud” to be a part of the city.
The experience made Mark more determined than ever to go back this year. Five months ago, he also set up the charity Let’s Stop Cancer.
The charity’s main focus is to help with the daily life of a cancer patient, rather than the hospital.
“When I got cancer nine years ago, I was a father who had to take time off work,” he said.
“The bills are still coming in. This charity will help with all that. It will allow them to provide for their families while having treatment.”
The charity also works alongside two Irish children’s charities, ‘Aoibheann’s Pink Tie’ and ‘Lucy’s Love Bus.’ Mark’s charity helps bring children connected to these two charities to Boston and vice versa.
“My goal is that every cancer patient has the ability to live their everyday life as effortlessly as possible,” said Mark.