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Pawlak, 21, returns for uplifting day at Boston Marathon

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Albion man again completes course in under 3 hours

Photo courtesy of Rion Pawlak – Kevin Pawlak competes in the Boston Marathon on Monday. He was one of 36,000 runners to finish the 26.2 mile course.

Kevin Pawlak last April crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon in under three hours. His time of 2:57:11 was an impressive feat for the 20-year-old from Albion. He averaged less than 7 minutes a mile in covering the 26.2-mile course.

But the euphoric feeling of that triumph didn’t last long.  About two hours after he finished, two bombs went off near the finish line, killing three people and wounding more than 260.

Pawlak returned to Boston on Monday, joining 36,000 runners. He again broke 3 hours, finishing in 2:59.

Huge throngs of spectators lined the course. Pawlak said it was unbelievable, and very uplifting.

“The atmosphere was absolutely great,” he said. “There were a lot more spectators than last year and they were loud.”

Pawlak is a senior history major at Shepherd University in West Virginia. The bitter cold winter made training for the marathon more difficult. He didn’t have the same level of preparation as he did for the race a year ago.

“The crowd really carried me,” he said about the race on Monday. “You just couldn’t stop.”

Pawlak and the runners were determined to return, to not let the terrorist attack keep them from one of the most prestigious marathons in the world.

“It was making a statement that no one will dictate our lives,” Pawlak said. “No one will make us live in fear.”

File photo by Tom Rivers – Kevin Pawlak, in this photo from April 2013, holds his medal for finishing the Boston Marathon.

The race is part of a festival atmosphere with Massachusetts celebrating Patriots Day on Monday. Many people dress in colonial garb. Tons of American flags were out.

Kevin’s father Jerome joined him in Boston. Kevin’s older brother Rion Pawlak also showed up in a surprise on Monday.

Kevin and Jerome visited the finish line on Saturday.

“It was somber and surreal,” Jerome said. “We’ve struggled over the past year realizing how lucky we were. Kevin and I were able to get some closure.”

Security was heightened with more K-9 units, police officers and helicopters.

The runners were given a heroes’ welcome from the Boston community, which thanked them for coming back after the horrors from a year ago.

“It gave you a sense of pride,” Jerome said. “It was a wonderful experience.”

Kevin qualified again for Boston and he plans to run the race again next year.

The race on Monday was won by Meb Keflezighi, the first American to win the storied race since 1983. It was part of a perfect day, Kevin said.

“To have an American win you couldn’t have asked for a better Boston Marathon,” he said. “In Boston, all of the runners are treated as celebrities, no matter how fast you are.”