Marathon bombing victim was star among stars at DMSE Classic Celebrity Mile at Merrimack College
Jeff Bauman was all excited about his second-ever road race on the Merrimack College campus this weekend.
But as the 2013 Boston Marathon bomb victim got closer to celebrity signup tent, he realized he made a blunder.
"All of sudden, all of these little kids are running by us with their T-shirts and race numbers (all wore No. 1)," said Bauman, of the Fuddrucker's Kids K. "My daughter Nora was wondering why she hadn't run in the kids race. I didn't even realize. I don't think she was happy with me."
Well, the other several hundred people couldn't have been happier.
Bauman participated in DMSE Classic, a weekend of races on the Merrimack campus which included a Kids K, 5K, 10K, half-marathon and Celebrity Mile.
A year ago was Bauman's first-ever road race. Saturday's mile was his second.
"I was a little better prepared for this one," said Bauman, a native of Chelmsford who resides in Carlisle with wife, Erin, and daughter, Nora.
"I tried to walk a little more before this race, just to get out for half-mile or more," said Bauman. "Normally, I might do a mile of walking over three days. It's still hard to get around."
Bauman picked it up a notch on Saturday's event. This time he didn't bring his cane.
"I did use some shoulders from a time to time, when I was going down a small hill. Hills are a pain in the neck," said Bauman.
What was similar to a year ago was Bauman drawing a crowd, like 300 people, who walked the second loop behind him.
Talk about a support system.
"It's one of the greatest things I've witnessed," said Bauman. "I mean everybody, the other celebrity runners, the fans watching ... all walking with me. People have been amazing to me and my family, and it's things like that that make me appreciate people even more."
Bauman is busy these days. A movie on his life and experiences after the marathon bombing, "Stronger," comes out in September, in which Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal plays him.
"I've done some traveling and I have a lot more coming in August and September," said Bauman. "I'm trying to spend as much time as possible with my family. I love being at home and doing things with Nora. I love it."
Besides movie stardom and family, Bauman added another activity to his agenda over the last year. He became a student again.
This past fall and spring he attended Middlesex Community College to study mechanical engineering.
Yes, mechanical engineering.
"I switched my major," said Bauman. "I want to work with prosthetics. I find it fascinating. I've got some connections with Ottobock, one of the world leaders in (lower body) prosthetics. It's my goal. I really liked school."
Bauman was among the 37 celebrities who participated in the race, which included Ch. 4 news anchor Lisa Hughes, Boston Police Commissioner Billy Evans, long distance swimmer Diana Nyad, former astronaut Sunita Williams, fellow marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet, and the father (Bill) and brother (Henry) of Martin Richard — the 8-year-old who was killed in bombings.
"Look at the people here," said Bauman. "These people are incredible. I'm just a regular guy."
Well, not really.
Bauman's intestinal fortitude was on display again and stole the show ... again.
In fact, Bauman was thinking big after Saturday's Celebrity Mile. As in really big.
"My time was faster last year, but I'm actually showing progression," said Bauman. "I'm working my way up to potentially running and getting the blades. Maybe next year or the year after ... as long as Dave (McGillivray) will still have me."
If the 300 or so supporters who walked the last half-mile behind Bauman was any indication — by the way, McGillivray was in that group — I'm guessing it won't be a problem.
"I will guarantee one thing about next year," said Bauman. "My daughter Nora will be running the kids race."