Local Woman Returning To Boston To Finish Her Marathon Quest
Erica Robertson will go back in April to finish the race interrupted by last year's bombing as well as raise more money to fight the disease that has afflicted her daughter
Robertson was four miles from the end of the 2013 Boston Marathon when she and other runners were stopped because of the explosion of two bombs at the finish line of the historic race.
Robertson did accomplish one goal in her curtailed run.
She raised $11,000 for medical research into Rett syndrome, a disease that has afflicted her 7-year-old daughter, Avery.
The 25-member Team Rett, of which Robertson is a member, raised $128,000 despite the shortened race, surpassing its goal of $100,000.
This year, Robertson will run the marathon again, this time with her husband, Ryan. So far, the couple has raised more than $6,000 for Rett syndrome research and treatment.
Robertson, a Pleasant Hill resident, said he is excited both to run the entire 26.2-mile course as well as get another opportunity to raise money for medical research.
"I'm going to be so pumped up," said Robertson. "I'm so ready to get there."
Robertson's journey began in April 2012 when she saw other parents involved in fundraising for Rett syndrome run the marathon and raise money.
Robertson has been involved in local efforts such as the annual Strollathon in Moraga, but she saw the Boston Marathon as a way to earn more money and get the word out.
"Saying you're running the Boston Marathon is a great conversation starter," she said.
Robertson had run a few 5K races, but she admits she didn't like running before she started training for the marathon. Now, she's semi-addicted.
Robertson ran the Healdsburg Half-Marathon in October 2012 and then bumped up her training to prepare for Boston.
She got her official race number that month and admits it set her nerves on edge.
"It was then I got really scared," she said.
Robertson continued to push herself to get in shape. She said her motivation is always her daughter.
"My inspiration to run is always Avery," said Robertson. "The struggles she faces daily are nothing compared to 26.2 miles."
Race day finally came in April 2013. Robertson said the excitement in the athlete's village near the starting line was incredible.
"It was just a blow-out experience," said Robertson. "I thought, this is the coolest thing I'm ever going to do."
Crowds line the streets the entire 26 miles for the Boston Marathon. Robertson said she couldn't believe people were still out there cheering so long after the lead runners went by.
Then, when she got a few miles from the finish, she saw a runner crying while talking to a soldier. She saw any crying competitor speaking with a police officer.
Then, she got a text from her husband saying to call him immediately. Ryan Robertson told his wife about the explosions and that the rest of the race was being called off.
Robertson came to the police roadblock at mile 22.
"I couldn't comprehend what was going on," she said. "I thought that after all the training and traveling and planning I wasn't going to finish. Are you kidding me?"
Robertson's husband found her walking back toward downtown Boston. The mood became more somber after they learned of the deaths and the injuries.
It took the couple two hours to reach their friend's hotel. After staying there awhile, they headed over to their room. That's when it hit Robertson.
"I said I'm coming back next year. I want to finish," she remembered.
The following month, the Boston Athletic Association announced that any runner that had completed at least 13 miles of the 2013 race would be allowed to compete in the 2014 marathon.
Robertson signed up. So did a 25-member Team Rett.
Robertson continued to train. She ran the Healdsburg Half Marathon again last October.
Her husband, an Orinda native and a former baseball player at U.C. Berkeley, started training last fall and will join her.
"I have to finish," Robertson repeated. "I have to get there."
If you would like to donate to Robertson or Team Rett, just go to this website.