BAR HARBOR — Even as the trials of those responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing two years ago were in the news this week, thousands of runners, including a handful of Mount Desert Island residents, are finishing their training for this year’s race, set for Monday, April 20.
One of those is Bar Harbor public safety dispatcher Lori Bartlett, whose first time running the historic race was interrupted by the attack. She runs as part of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC), a fundraising arm of the Boston cancer institute.
“You’re never going to forget it,” she said. Her husband and daughter had come to cheer her on, and she was terrified that she had put them in danger, but they found their way back to each other and safely home.
She decided to return for the 2014 and 2015 editions of the race, staring down the painful memories of 2013 and upping her fundraising goal each year. She has raised more than $4,000 towards this year’s $12,000 goal.
When Bartlett first signed up with the DFMC, she was thinking of her grandfather Fred Siegwarth, who died of colon cancer when she was in high school. “He was so ashamed of his symptoms and didn’t want to go to the doctor. I always think if he had just gone sooner, maybe he wouldn’t have had to suffer so much. Cancer is something that affects us all in some way.”
She has decorated her racing singlet this year with the names of friends and family affected by cancer. “Those people have really suffered. For me to run 26 miles is nothing compared to what they went through and are going through,” she said.
She sees the fundraising work as a way to give back since running sometimes seems like a selfish hobby. “Running just benefits you,” she said. “It’s such a release of everything. When I run around Eagle Lake, the lake is like my best friend. It’s there for me when I’m happy, and when I’m sad and angry and frustrated. I love running there. So it’s mentally helpful as well as physically helpful. But it takes a lot of my time.
“I honestly wish that I had been involved with this years ago. Dana-Farber cares so much about the patients. They go so far to help everyone, to give these patients their lives back. I went down there for a fundraising summit, which isn’t just about them giving advice on how to raise money. They also had breakout sessions where they brought doctors and patients to come talk to us. What they do for patients, especially the young kids. I’m proud to be associated with them.”
Bartlett’s husband Matt is the chief of the Bar Harbor Fire Department. They organized a car wash last spring to support Lori’s DFMC fundraising goal. Former chief Dave Rand was there and passed away later in the year. This year’s Dave Rand Memorial car wash is set for May 9. To make a donation online, follow the “Support a Runner” link at rundfmc.org.
Other MDI runners set to chase the Boston Athletic Association glory this year include Gary Allen, Britt Hulbert, Aaron Long, Lisa Tweedie and Jennifer VanDongen.