Kentner holds up a display of medals sheâ€™s won competing in marathons over the years. (Staff photo/John Bush)
One year ago Tuesday, Wapakoneta resident Amy Kentner was going about a normal day at work when she heard the news.
At 2:49 p.m., two bombs exploded near the finish line of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 264 others.
Kentner, who has been an accomplished marathon runner for decades, wasn’t there that day. But 25 of her friends were.
She wondered, were they OK? How could this have happened? Who had done this? When will I hear from my friends?
“I remember just being paralyzed,” she said. “I couldn’t focus on anything because I was thinking about my friends I had that were running, just wondering what was happening.
“I felt so angry. I thought, ‘how could someone do this to innocent people on what is supposed to be such a glorious day?’ It just hurt on so many levels.”
Kentner would not hear from her friends for hours. Each passing minute became more agonizing as she waited, and waited and waited.
Finally, about two and a half hours after the bombs exploded on Boylston Street, she started receiving the calls she’d been waiting for.
Everyone she knew was OK.
“After I found out my friends were OK, I started praying for all the others that were there that day,” she said. “It was just such a tragedy.”
What shocked Kentner the most were the amount of phone calls she received from people wondering if she was there and if she was OK. Some calls were from people she barely knew or hadn’t seen in years.
“Sometimes you get that feeling like nobody cares about you, but I was surprised that I got about 45 phone calls from people wondering how I was,” Kentner said. “That just shocked the heck out of me. People I didn’t think would think twice about me really cared.
“That was really humbling.”
Kentner wasn’t there on that day in Boston nearly one year ago, but she will be on Monday, honoring those who were affected by the tragedy.
“It felt right to honor the people whose lives have been lost,” she said. “It’s going to be emotional, but also uplifting and gratifying in so many ways to be there with so many of my friends.”
This will be her second time running in the Boston Marathon. She first ran in 2007.
Kentner will leave for Boston today with her 13-year-old daughter Emma, who is a runner herself. Last year, she ran the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. They will be staying with Kentner’s brother and sister-in-law, who live in Boston.
Kentner’s lifelong passion for running began at an early age, springing from an accident that would forever change the way she lived her life.
When she was six years old, she was struck by a car while riding her bike on the street near her house in Mogadore, Ohio.
An oncoming vehicle swerved to avoid a parked car, hitting Kentner as she was riding.
“He hit me and I flew over a sewer like Superman,” she said.
She suffered a gash in her leg, which required two layers of stitches that went down to the bone. To this day, she has no feeling in that part of her leg.
While she was in the hospital, she did therapy using ankle weights to regain strength in her leg. After she arrived back home, she needed to continue therapy.
Her dad decided against using ankle weights, and instead filled five bags with nails that ranged between two and 10 pounds. He then created a strap that could be wrapped around her ankle, and told her she would be using these for her ankle weights.
“At that moment, I knew I wasn’t going to do therapy that way,” she said. “I knew running and walking was important for me so that’s what I did. I just started running, and running and running --- I never looked back.”
Most people’s lives aren’t shaped in such a dramatic fashion at the age of six, but for Kentner, running became something that would define her life in the years that followed.
“That changed everything,” she said. “My life at six years old took a completely different direction and I didn’t even know it.”
The little girl who ran because she didn’t want to lift bags of nails turned into the woman who would eventually run 85 marathons in six different countries, raising tens of thousands of dollars for charity along the way.
She has raised $47,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society alone in the five times she’s raced in honor of the organization.
“Most people look at running as an individual sport, but after doing this for so long, I realized I needed to do it for other people and other things,” Kentner said. “Running isn’t just about me, it’s abut helping others and doing something with the gift I have.”
Her gift will be on display Monday as she runs not for herself, but for all those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.
When she crosses that finish line, she expects to feel a mix of joy and sadness.
“It’s very rare when a human being can feel sadness and joy at the same time,” she said. “There will really be no words to describe those two emotions when they come together as I run down Boylston Street towards the finish line.”
An article by the Boston Globe stated there is expected to be about one million spectators who will gather to watch the race, cheering on runners as they make their way toward the finish line.
Kentner said those people will be there for one reason: to show the world world we can’t be beat.
“We’re gonna show the world that we can’t be broken,” she said. “We’re gonna get through this and live on. Just because a tragedy happened doesn’t mean we’re gonna sacrifice our dreams and our goals. We’ll carry on and be the best we can be.
“The bottom line is, we kick ass.”