GREENWICH, Conn. – Terrorists didn’t stop Greenwich’s Sally Duval from going on with her life after they killed her brother on Sept. 11, 2001. The terrorists responsible for the bombings at last year’s Boston Marathon certainly aren’t going to stop her when she runs the race for the first time later this month.
Duval will step off on the course on Monday, April 21, after winning an online contest sponsored by Stonyfield Organic, the official yogurt sponsor of the Boston Marathon. Duval, a 35-year-old mother of three young girls, was determined to run the race.
“I’m a very emotional and patriotic person,’’ she said. “I saw it [the bombing] happen last year and knew right then that I wanted to be a part of this year’s race. There’s no way I could bare missing it. I knew I would run it no matter what. I’m glad the opportunity from Stonyfield came through.”
Duval’s husband, James, was running in last year’s race with his father when the bombs went off at the finish line. Sally's husband called her from another runner’s cellphone to let her know that they were not harmed in the blasts.
For Sally, it brought flashbacks to Sept. 11 when her brother, Teddy, died in the attacks on New York City.
“It was a very hard moment,’’ she said. “It brought back a lot of emotions and memories. There’s a feeling of helplessness, not being able to get in touch with anyone. My mother-in-law was waiting for them to pick them up, and we couldn’t get through to her. It was a rough day, not knowing what was going to happen was next. In a situation like that, you don’t know how wide-reaching it’s going to be.”
Duval ran the New York City Marathon last year, her first official attempt at the distance. She ran with her husband as part of the charity team for B*Cured. As the first major marathon after Boston in the United States, she knew there would be security concerns.
“We feel strongly that we can’t change our lives,’’ Duval said. “We took precautions and had conversations about what we should do with the kids. We had plans A, B and C in case something happened. Just the fact that we had to have the discussion is too bad. But we’re not going deterred from what we believe in. I think that’s important.
“I don’t think anyone will run down Boylston Street (where last year’s bombings occurred) without thinking about last year,’’ she added. “But we have to rise above it and overcome it. I think it will be a tremendous day this year.”
Duval learned in February that she was one of nine runners selected by Stonyfield to run Boston. Fortunately, she had started training for a 100-mile ultramarathon that she will run in July. “I never in a million years thought I’d get in,’’ she said.
Duval will run in Boston to honor her brother, the victims of last year’s race and the city of Boston.
She’s also doing it for her girls, to demonstrate the values of determination and courage. Like any good parent, she wants to be a role model for her children.
“My girls are so young, they’re not really aware of the choices we’re making and the realities we’re faced with,’’ she said. “I don’t think they can totally appreciate that I’m running. It’s providing them with a role model and a healthy set of values that hopefully they’ll understand when they’re older. Maybe then it’s stuff we can talk about. Hopefully by that time, these things won’t be occurring any more.”