A year after Boston Marathon bombings, Merced’s James Bond returns to run again

04/18/2014 8:48 PM

04/19/2014 6:48 AM

For James Bond, it was a quick, easy decision.

Bond was with his wife, Melina, and children James, 19, and Mya, 15, at an Italian restaurant in Boston a day after last year’s Boston Marathon.

A day earlier, Bond crossed the finish line on Boylston Street about 75 minutes before the bombs went off that killed three people and wounded 260.

“We were sitting down to eat and this song, ‘I’m Proud to be an American,’ is playing,” Bond said. “It was one of the most patriotic moments I’ve ever had. There was a diverse group in this restaurant, people from all walks of life. Once this song starts playing, everyone started singing. I still get chills thinking about it.”

Shortly after that moment, Bond decided he was going to run Boston again. On Monday, the 36-year-old Mercedian will be one of about 36,000 runners to compete in America’s most famous marathon.

“Before the bombing, I just wanted to try to do the Boston Marathon so I could check it off my bucket list, to say that I did it,” Bond said. “The day after that happened, to see the patriotism Boston has, that America has, I decided I had to come back next year.”

His wife, daughter and 16-year-old niece, Alejandra Flores, also are making the trip to cheer him on.

Mya admits she’s a little nervous, especially if she finds herself in a big crowd, but she’s proud of her dad.

“I’m probably more nervous than anyone, but I think it’s awesome,” Mya said. “I would do the same thing.”

That hasn’t been everyone’s reaction when they hear Bond is going to run the race again. Instead, it’s been: Why would you do that? That’s crazy.

“I don’t think it’s a running thing at this point,” Bond said. “It’s a patriotic thing. We want to show terrorists you can’t deter us from doing what we want. The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest running events in America. This is an opportunity for me to show my patriotism toward America.”

Bond, who works in new construction plumbing, caught the marathon bug in 2010 and has competed in six marathons since. He’s trained six days a week, running 50-70 miles per week in preparation for Monday’s marathon.

“A marathon is hard to do,” Bond said. “It’s a good personal feat. It’s really emotional when you finish a marathon. Your body is exhausted of everything. But it’s also a great feeling. Then you want to get faster and faster.”

His goal is to break 3 hours. His time of 3 hours, 3 minutes and 24 seconds at last year’s Boston Marathon was his best time to date.

He was with his family celebrating his finish two blocks away from the finish line in a restaurant when he found out about the bombings.

“My phone started ringing,” he said. “My mom kept calling. Then she started calling my son’s phone. I thought there might be something wrong back here. That’s when I grabbed my phone and went in front of the restaurant to talk. I could see people running around. It was pretty chaotic.”

Added Mya: “Everyone was laughing and having fun and then all of sudden we turn to the TV and see the explosions.”

Bond described the walk back to the hotel as eerie. There were sirens all around them.

“It was pretty intense, the whole situation,” Bond said. “Being that (his family) were there at ground zero an hour and 15 minutes before the bombing. We were walking past a post office and there were guys standing in front with their AK-47s. There were those black SUVs parked in front. It was intense.”

Bond hopes this trip will provide him pleasant memories of Boston. He knows he was lucky not to be around the finish line when the bombs went off last year. He and his family weren’t hurt.

“I want to go back and finish my trip,” Bond said. “I want to enjoy myself there. I want to have fun. We were cut short last year. I don’t want terrorists to take that away. That’s why I want to go show my patriotism.”

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