In the first book on this iconic event, 4:09:43, Hal Higdon, a contributing editor at Runner’s World, tells the tale of the Boston Marathon bombings. 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. You will meet George, a runner from Athens, birthplace of the modern marathon, who at sunrise joins the eerie march of silent runners, all aimed at their appointments in Hopkinton, where the marathon starts. You will meet Michele, who at age 2 helped her mother hand water to runners, who first ran the marathon while a student at Wellesley College, and who decided to run Boston again mainly because her daughter Shannon was now a student at Boston University. You will meet Tracy, caught on Boylston Street between the two explosions, running for her life. You will meet Heather, a Canadian, who limped into the Medical Tent with bloody socks from blisters, soon to realize that worse things exist than losing a toenail.
In what may be a first, Hal Higdon used social media in writing 4:09:43. Sunday, not yet expecting what might happen the next day, Higdon posted a good-luck message on his popular Facebook page. “Perfect weather,” the author predicted. “A ‘no-excuses’ day.” Within minutes, runners in Boston responded. Neil suggested that he was “chilling before the carb-a-thon continues.” Christy boasted from her hotel room: “Bring it!”
Then, the explosions on Monday! Like all runners, Higdon wondered whether marathoners would ever feel safe again. Beginning Tuesday, runners told him. They began blogging on the Internet, posting to his Facebook page, offering links to their stories, so very similar, but also so very different. Over the next several hours, days, and weeks, Higdon collected the tales of nearly 75 runners who were there, whose lives forever would be shadowed by the bombs on Boylston Street.
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, albeit one that ended in tragedy. This is a book as much about the race and the runners in the race as it is about a terrorist attack. 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.
Table of Contents
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
“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
“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
"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 Beacon 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
"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
“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
“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