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Former BMS principal joins elite at Boston Marathon



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April 30, 2014 - A city rolled into one big fist.

That's how Boston Marathoner Bill Snyder described Boston after completing his 26th consecutive 26.2 mile race there on April 21.

Snyder, an educator for 45 years and Brandon Middle School principal for 15 years prior to his retirement in 2012, joined 52 official participants that have completed 25 or more consecutive Boston Marathons.

"The people in Boston just wanted to put the events of 2013 behind them— to not let those people disrupt their life or the marathon," said Snyder, 70.

On April 15, 2013, Snyder was about five miles away from completion when two explosions ripped through the finish line on the 26.2 mile trek of the Boston Marathon. According to news reports, the blasts left more than 260 injured and three dead. A massive manhunt followed the incident for two suspects, Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev of Cambridge, Mass. Tamerlan was killed in a gunfight with police overnight on April 19. Dzhokhar was taken into custody on April 19.

"On the subway trains, garbage trucks, or on 10,000 plus flower pots painted in blue and gold, the expression of Boston Strong was everywhere," said Snyder. "The people were not going to be intimidated—they may have been saddened by the events of last year, but they were driven to push on."

Snyder finished the 2014 Boston Marathon in 7:03:17.

"It had been a hard winter for running here in Michigan and that made a big difference for me," he said after the race. "I really never wanted to quit so bad in my life—my feet were on fire. It was a beautiful, sunny day, temperatures in the 70s. I really had not been climatized to warm weather. For the past six months I'd been dealing with cold, clouds and snow—the warmer weather took some getting used to."

Snyder's goal was to complete the race in about six hours.

"The security was amazing," he said. "Spectators could not cross the street without being questioned, runners could not carry duffel bags on the buses. No bags off the buses, more helicopters than I'd ever imagined, the runners were safe. There were armed Massachusetts National Guard, bombs dogs on the corners and in the crowds, ATF agents along the road, it was really quite sobering—just huge numbers of law enforcement."

Snyder is already making plans for the 2015 Boston Marathon.

In October 2012, Snyder had open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic and convinced the doctor who performed the operation that a goal of training for the Boston Marathon was a good recovery plan.

The Boston Marathon requires a qualifying time of 4 hours and 25 minutes for male runners 70-74 years old.

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