Marco Werman: Let's turn now to the story of one person who not only ran last year's Boston marathon, he also played a key role in the response to the bombings afterward.
David King: After I crossed the finish line, I usually stop and turn around and look backwards. And I do that because I'm pretty happy to finish, but I like seeing everybody else and their faces and all of their excitement from crossing the finish line.
Werman: That's long-distance runner David King. He ran the Boston marathon last year and the year before and the year before that. He told his story to my WGBH colleague Ibby Caputo.
Ibby Caputo: Last year, David King finished the race and was in a cab on his way home when he realized something wasn't right. He was getting cryptic text messages.
King: Things like "Are you okay?" "Heard something went wrong." "I heard there was an explosion."
Caputo: So he headed to work. King is a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He arrived at the ER just after the first wave of bombing victims.
King: hey were lined up in the trauma bays and, for me, that was the point where I suddenly knew the whole story back to front. I didn't need the news or the FBI or some investigation to tell me what had happened.
Caputo: That's because King had seen these type of injuries before as a combat surgeon in the US Army.
King: It was really the identical characteristic pattern of injury I'd seen hundreds and hundreds of times while deployed.
Caputo: King served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says he remembers one morning in Afghanistan when there was a particularly heavy mortar and rifle attack on his army base. He and his friends started to question why they were there.
King: "What are we doing here hunkered down in this bunker while things are getting blown up all around us?"
Caputo: The answer they came up with? So that this kind of violence doesn't come home.
King: So our families and our children can sleep safely at night and not have to be exposed to that kind of environment. We were okay with that. It made perfect sense.
Caputo: But if trauma in war makes sense, it doesn't in a marathon. In the year since the Boston bombings, King says it's been hard to reconcile what he calls the "dissonance between the marathon and last year's attack."
King: It's a disturbing thing for the country when there's a terrorist attack in the homeland, for sure. It's perhaps more disturbing when it occurs in your own state, more so in your own city, in this case really, our backyard. But there's just something deeper and more profound when it happens in your own marathon, an event that is supposed to be celebrating health and happiness and achievement. The paradox is pretty profound.
Caputo: That's why for this year's marathon, King says we have to make a conscious effort not to dwell on tragedy.
King: I think if we do that, it clouds and darkens the very fundamental purpose of the race to begin with.
Caputo: King says this year's race should be a massive celebration. He says we should honor the dead and the injured but not think about the bombers.
King: It shouldn't be a race honoring the bombing. It should be a race honoring all the inspiration that came afterwards last year.
Caputo: King is running again this year, as he has many times before. When he crosses the finish line and turns around to look at the runners behind him doing the same, he won't just be looking back. He'll be moving on. For The World, I'm Ibby Caputo, Boston.