Like many tall people, Mike Lawn doesn't consider himself ideally suited to long-distance running. "I've played sports my whole life ... and I always ran. But it was three miles, five miles, a lot of 5K road races," he says.
He actually trained for the Boston Marathon three years ago, but an Achilles tendon injury ended his race before he made it to the starting line. He didn't think he'd try again.
But the head of detectives for the Watertown (Mass.) Police Department found himself connected to 2013's Boston Marathon in more ways than one.
The race bypasses Watertown and goes through neighboring Newton. Last year Mr. Lawn, a lieutenant in the police force, had the day off, so he and his three sons were on Heartbreak Hill cheering on his wife, who was running the marathon. It was there that he heard about the explosions. In the aftermath, it took hours for husband and wife to find each other.
"It was just a long day for all of us," he says.
Those long days were far from over. That Thursday night, Lawn got a call that Mr. Collier, the MIT police officer, had been killed – and the violence spilled over into Watertown, where a wild firefight ensued with the two bombing suspects. Lawn worked as incident commander while the town flooded with thousands of police officers.
Now, a year later, 11 Watertown officers – including 6 ft., 3 in. Lawn – are running the marathon. Lawn, in fact, was among the hundreds of people who wrote essays for the BAA about why they should be given spots in the race.
"So many of our officers went through a situation that no other police officer has before, like getting bombs thrown at them," he says. "What they did was just remarkable, and they're all still here and working, and we're all OK."
Lawn, whose duties as the police department's media contact have kept him plenty busy, is looking forward to things returning to normal – but only after he runs the marathon. "Just being able to be part of it this year is going to be so awesome, you know, for this whole city and this police department," he says.
But just this once, he says. "They say once you run one, you'll run more. Not me!"
– Schuyler Velasco, staff writer