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THOOM!!! The first bomb exploding was loud, unbelievably loud, unbearably loud, piercingly loud. Rock concerts, fireworks, gunfire, dragster racing, space shuttle launches: All produce noise levels approaching 150 decibels.
Best-selling author Hal Higdon offers a captivating account of the 2013 Boston Marathon from the unique vantage point of those running the race. Collected through social media messages and e-mails sent to the author, the stories of 75 runners are woven into a smooth-flowing narrative that captures both the triumph of marathon running and the tragedy of the bombing.
In the first book on this tragic event, 4:09:43, Hal Higdon, a contributing editor at Runner’s World, tells the tale of Boston 2013. The book’s title refers to the numbers on the finish-line clock when the first bomb exploded. In 4:09:43, Higdon views Boston 2013 through the eyes of those running the race, focusing on 75 runners and their individual stories, collected uniquely through social media: blogs posted online, stories offered on Facebook, and e-mails sent to the author.
In 4:09:43, Higdon presents these stories, condensing and integrating them into a smooth-flowing narrative that begins with runners boarding the buses at Boston Common, continues with the wait at the Athletes’ Village in Hopkinton, and flows through eight separate towns. The story does not end until the 23,000 participants encounter the terror on Boylston Street. “These are not 75 separate stories,” says Higdon. “This is one story told as it might have been by a single runner with 75 pairs of eyes.”
One warning about reading 4:09:43: You will cry. But you will laugh too, because for most of those who covered the 26 miles 385 yards from Hopkinton to Boylston Street, this was a joyous journey. In future years as people look back on the Boston Marathon bombings, 4:09:43 will be the book that everyone will need to have read.
Foreword by Kathrine Switzer
Chapter 1 The Common
Chapter 2 Copley Square
Chapter 3 Athletes’ Village
Chapter 4 Hopkinton Green
Chapter 5 Ashland
Chapter 6 Framingham
Chapter 7 Natick
Chapter 8 Wellesley
Chapter 9 Newton
Chapter 10 Brookline
Chapter 11 Boylston Street
Chapter 12 4:09:43
Chapter 13 The horror!
Chapter 14 Diaspora
Chapter 15 Logan
About the Author
The ONE Fund
Hal Higdon has contributed to Runner's World for longer than any other writer. An article by Hal appeared in that publication's second issue in 1966. Author of more than 36 books, including 4:09:43, the best-selling Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide, and a novel, titled simply Marathon, Higdon has also written books on many subjects and for various age groups. His children's book The Horse That Played Center Field was made into an animated feature by ABC-TV. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. One of the founders of the Road Runners Club of America, Higdon also was a finalist in NASA's Journalist-in-Space program to ride the space shuttle. The former training consultant for the Chicago Marathon, he answers questions online for TrainingPeaks, also providing interactive training programs.
Higdon became acquainted with the Boston Marathon as a member of the U.S. Army stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, training with Dean Thackwray, who would make the U.S. Olympic team in 1956 as a marathoner. Higdon knew then that he eventually needed to move upward in distance from his usual track events (including the 3,000-meter steeplechase) to the marathon. He first ran Boston in 1959, then again in 1960, failing to finish both years. “My mistake,” Higdon realized later, “was trying to win the race, not finish the race.”
It took five years for Higdon to figure out the training necessary for success as an elite marathoner, becoming the first American finisher (5th overall) in 1964. On that journey, he wrote an article for Sports Illustrated about Boston titled “On the Run From Dogs and People” (later a book by the same title) that contributed to the explosion of interest in running in the 1970s that continues to this day.
Higdon also wrote a coffee table book titled Boston: A Century of Running, published before the 100th running of the Boston Marathon in 1996. An expanded version of a chapter in that book featuring the 1982 battle between Alberto Salazar and Dick Bearsley, titled The Duel, continues as a best-seller among running books. His most popular running book is Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide, with a quarter million copies sold, now in its fourth edition.
Higdon has run 111 marathons, 18 of them at Boston. He considers himself more than a running specialist, having spent most of his career as a full-time journalist writing about a variety of subjects, including business, history, and science, for publications such as Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, National Geographic, and Playboy. Among his more than three dozen published books are two involving major crimes: The Union vs. Dr. Mudd (about the Lincoln assassination) and The Crime of the Century (about the Leopold and Loeb case, featuring attorney Clarence Darrow). Thus, 4:09:43 offers a natural progression in his long career.
Higdon continues to run and bike with his wife, Rose, from their winter and summer homes in Florida and Indiana. They have three children and nine grandchildren.
“Some would like to forget the horror of the 2013 Boston Marathon. However, many more of us would like to celebrate the unflinching runners, medical staff, and community of Boston for the courage and love they showed each other in marathon's time of greatest need. Hal Higdon's book 4:09:43 is full of inspiring personal stories that reflect how running's worst day may also have been its best.”
Boston Marathon Champion
Editor at Large, Runner’s World
“We realize while reading the marathoners’ own words why they will not be stopped by the bombings that took place. It’s simple: Love is stronger than hate.”
Four-Time Boston and NYC Marathon Champion
“Hal Higdon has captured the absolute dichotomy that was the April 15 Boston Marathon, a very real Tale of Two Cities. It was the best of times and the worst of times, from the beautiful and uplifting marathon celebration that Boston is known for to an absolute day of fear, horror, and mayhem. Told through the emotional lens and perspective of actual runners and other witnesses to terror, the heartfelt story of the 117th running is a complex and sometimes contradictory series of emotions and is at once gripping, sensitive, and inspiring. Runners worldwide and all those who love the Boston Marathon will find 4:09:43 a compelling account of the many emotions of the day as well as a meaningful tribute to its greatness.”
Former Executive Director of the Boston Athletic Association
Organizer of the Boston Marathon, 1985 to 2012
“The Boston bombings broke the hearts of runners everywhere but only reinforced their spirit. Through the stories of some who were actually there, Hal Higdon tells how ordinary runners like us have become indomitable examples to the whole world.”
First woman to officially run the Boston Marathon
Longtime TV commentator on the event
Author of Marathon Woman
"Higdon's account avoids the political sensationalizing of the events of April 15, 2013. Instead, he tells the story of Boston through the eyes of dozens of participants, revealing what the event means to hundreds of thousands of runners and how the explosions of that day burst into this iconic event and experience. Read this book if you love Boston."
Editor in Chief, Running Times
"I was there on April 15, 2013, a hundred yards beyond the finish line when the bombs changed an annual ritual of personal achievement into a horror show. But I didn't see everything there was to see, didn't understand all the stories of bravery and loss happening on Boylston St that day. No one person could, which is why this book is so valuable. It's the closest we can come to having been everywhere on that one terrible, miraculous day."
Host of NPR’s Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me
2013 Boston Marathon Finisher
"Hal Higdon in 4:09:43 proves that the Boston Marathon consists of every runner in the race and every spectator along the course--and when you attack even one, you attack all."
Boston Marathon Race Director
"I can think of no one better equipped than Hal Higdon to tell this story. It is a story of the special kinship of all of us who have run that final straightaway down Boylston Street toward the finish of the Boston Marathon. And it is the story of how those two explosions were instantly and instinctively felt-from whatever distance we experienced them-to be an attack on all of us. This is an amazing story, skillfully woven together by one of our sport's great chroniclers."
Author of Once a Runner
“Hal Higdon uses social media and personal correspondence to compile a powerful narrative for the tragic 2013 Boston Marathon. The collection of essays in 4:09:43 is a tribute to a marathon that Higdon knows deeply.”
Author of Running in Literature
“He's run Boston 18 times with a PR of 2:21 and best finish of fifth place. He wrote the definitive history about the race, Boston: A Century of Running, as well as countless articles. His training programs have helped thousands of runners qualify for Boston. Now Hal has called on that long lifetime of experience to help us understand the events of the day and the bombing's aftermath. For runners everywhere it is a must-read.”
Author of Heart Rate Training and Precision Running
"Higdon has captured the local color of that fateful day - a day never to forget - in a book never to forget"