Fortunate Finisher: 5 Questions with Jason Hartmann

Jason Hartmann became the second U.S. runner in the past 31 years to finish fourth or higher at the Boston Marathon in back to back years. Photo by PhotoRun.net

Jason Hartmann finished fourth in Monday’s Boston Marathon, matching his place from last year’s race. While the 32-year-old Boulder, Colo., resident agrees that his effort validated his race from 2012, when he persevered amid extreme heat, he says he won’t be able to separate his own race memories from the horrific bombing events that happened a few hours later. It’s important to note that only two U.S. men have placed higher than fourth since 1985 — Meb Keflezighi was third in 2006 and Ryan Hall was third in 2009 — and now Hartmann and Hall are the only American men to have finished fourth or higher in back-to-back years in Boston since Bill Rodgers and John Lodwick did it in 1981 and 1982. Hartmann says he’s not sure what’s next for him as a runner, but took time to reflect on the tragedy that rocked Boston on Monday afternoon.

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Where were you when the bombs went off?

“I was in drug-testing inside the Fairmont hotel when it happened, so I never heard anything. Then I got to my room and was just kind of hanging out, responding to text messages to friends and then all of a sudden they weren’t going through, and I thought that was kind of weird. That’s when I turned on the TV and saw the news. That was about 3:30 and then immediately text messages started pouring in. The whole thing was surreal.”

What is your reaction to it all?

“It’s just horrible, very surreal. We were in lockdown at the hotel all night and couldn’t go anywhere. I was just hoping everyone was OK. It puts things in perspective as to what’s important. The true heroes of the day were all of the first-responders and everyone who was helping out in some way but aren’t going to get their name in the paper. The way they responded was pretty amazing.”

Did it occur to you that you might have run past the bombs on your way to the finish line?

“It didn’t occur to me at all after all the news broke. I was very fortunate not to be in that situation, but my heart goes out to the runners and spectators who were.”

Will this change your outlook of big city marathons?

“Along the course, there is a huge presence of police and national guard. But can this be prevented in the future? You hope it can, but what can you do? You can’t stop people from watching the race. To be honest, in the future, God forbid that anything like this happens again … but I like to think positive … I’m going to continue living my life. If we let these acts of cowardice stop us from living our life, then they win in the end.”

It doesn’t tarnish your race, but it must give you bittersweet memories.

“My race validated my race from last year and hopefully it allowed everyone to realize it wasn’t a luck performance or a fluke. But it was an up and down day for sure. You have a performance you can be happy with, but then you are dealing with an act of cowardice that takes away from the whole experience. To be honest, I’ll always make the link from my own race to what happened later in the day. It’s just horrible what happened.”

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