Simon Ward, The High Performance Human Triathlon Podcast

How the Boston Marathon bombing led to healing across 7 continents * Simon Ward and Bobby O’Donnell

March 4, 2020
On this week's podcast I’m joined by an amazing young man. On April 15, 2013, 17 year old Bobby O’Donnell was about to fulfill a lifelong ambition. He stood on the start line of the Boston marathon and had never been so excited in his life. This was the day he had been building up to, and several close members of his family would be waiting in the finish line grandstand to cheer him home. With just over 1/2 mile to go the race was stopped and his life was about to change forever. Terrorists had detonated 2 bombs at the finish line killing 3 people and injuring several hundred others.
Not only was Bobby’s dream over, his nightmare began. Unable to contact any members of his family, he feared the worst. For several hours he assumed that they had all been killed until finally, using a borrowed phone, he was able to share text messages with his Mum. Finally he was able to meet them in a safe area where he saw every member of his family bar his father. Bobby’s father, a paramedic had offered his help to tend to the injured in the immediate aftermath. Bobby’s family were at the finish line but thankfully they were on the opposite side of the road. After the elation came the depression and a journey of several years to regain his love of life and running.
This podcast is Bobby’s first ever and while he has a shared this story previously in a public forum it never gets any easier. Please listen and while you do, consider the courage needed to speak about some memories that should never be experienced while enjoying your favourite sport.
Bobby has now written a book about his experiences over the last 7 years. "Running Wild:A quest for healing across 7 continents"will be realised in the UK at the end of March and while you will have to wait a few weeks to read the full story, in this episode Bobby and I speak about:
  • How getting a lottery place for a popular local road race changed his life forever
  • A chance meeting with a running coach at the start of his first ever run race, and learning a lesson for life
  • Entering his first marathon with just 100 days to prepare
  • Thinking that the Philadelphia marathon was just a short drive from Boston, not 300 miles away 
  • Why Bobby had to run for a charity to gain a Boston Marathon place
  • How an experience with best friend John Lee had a career defining impact on his life 
  • The immediate emotional impact of the Boston bombing and the aftermath
  • The TedX talk by Alex Sheenand 5 simple words that started him on the road to recovery
  • What shaped his decision to start travelling
  • Why he wouldn’t change the last few years
In the show we also mentioned several links:
Bobby’s first ever running race
The Promise Card - “Because I said I would”
Emergency first aid and CPR training in the UK RLSS - First Aid at Work
CPR Training in the US:
Mental Health US:
Mental Health UK:
Instagram: @runningwildbook

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