Greenfield native finishes marathon’s final mile

Raises $12,191 for cancer organization

Cassie Taylor has still never run a marathon, but that didn’t stop her from finishing the Boston race.

Last week, the Greenfield native was minutes from the end of her first marathon when the bombings that killed three and injured more than a hundred stopped her short.

“We were just stopped, we were corralled, there was thousands of us just kind of wondering what was going on,” Taylor said, reached that day. “Everyone around me said that they heard the booms; I was not paying attention because I was just trying to finish the damn race.”

She didn’t hear a thing, but a bystander jumped out to stop her at the 25.5-mile mark of the 26.2-mile race. After a moment of incomprehension she saw runners coming back toward her and realized something was wrong.

A week later, Taylor, who now lives in Brighton, rallied others to finish the race, albeit symbolically. On Monday afternoon, exactly one week following the attack that cut the race short, Taylor gathered with a group of about nine other runners near the point where they were stopped short. After observing the citywide moment of silence at 2:50, the group ran the final mile of the race, although one that was a bit detoured due to the finish-line area on Boylston Street still being closed off.

“It felt really great to run with them by my side,” Taylor said. “A lot of people were looking at us with our numbers on, not really sure what to make, but we made sure to honor those that are not with us any more and those that helped motivate us.”

Taylor said she had the idea to finish the race during the sleepless night following the marathon, and for her it’s not about the physical challenge, but rather helping with the emotional recovery following the tragedy. The 22-year-old was one of thousands running the marathon for charity, a category of runners last to cross the start line in the final wave of competitors.

Most competitors have to qualify to run in the elite event with a strong time in a previous marathon, runners signing on to compete for charity must instead raise thousands of dollars.

Taylor began training last fall after taking up the mantle of friend and coworker Carla Tardif, who was prevented from running this year by the onset of breast cancer.

The two women work for the Family Reach Foundation in Boston, a nonprofit providing financial relief and support to families fighting cancer, and as of Monday, Taylor’s effort has raised $12,191. She said that what bothered her most about not finishing was not the personal goal of finishing a marathon, but rather, that she was unable to complete the marathon for those she was running for.

“I can sign up and run it next year,” Taylor said. “I can run it again and finish it, but to take away the pride from the thousands of people running for charity, that’s what bothered me.”

While she plans to run the race again next year, Taylor said she felt that she needed to finish the race for those people this year. With that in mind, Taylor turned to social media on Tuesday, shortly after she returned to the city to pick up the bag she would have collected at the finish line. She sent out a note via Facebook and Twitter with the idea of running the last mile. Her story was picked up by CNN, and on Monday, roughly 30 minutes before running the last mile, she appeared on the national news network. She then went out and finished the last mile.

“I felt like it needed to be done to fulfill a certain mission,” she said. “I fell short of giving those that I was running for that hope and that excitement. I couldn’t wait a whole year to give that back to them. I thought that no better way to do that was by sending a message that we won’t let anything stop us from achieving our goal.”

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