Huckle commits to Boston

Nate Huckle found difficulty in digesting the news surrounding the terror imposed on this year’s Boston Marathon. A five-time participant himself, he exudes a sense of familiarity with the race that would go unfound in most other people – he refers to it simply as “Boston.” So when news of the bombings was brought to his attention, he self-admittedly felt sick.

Canisius’ second-year cross country coach took a seat to gather his thoughts and settle his emotions. He then called those he knew that were partaking in the event to find out if they were OK; not only did he have friends in the race, but three people he had trained were participating this year as well. When all was settled, he focused his attention towards the only response that made sense.

“Alright,” he thought. “I’m going to Boston next year.”

If Beantown has become a battleground in the war on terror, consider Huckle Canisius’ representative. His decision to race in a marathon for the first time in eight years comes as a reply to an attack that he felt wasn’t directed toward athletes, but toward those who support them and allow them to excel. To him, the bombing was an assault on the American lifestyle.

“I felt like it was an attack on my father, who had been there and supported me through all five marathons and who was standing on the sidelines a number of times in the finish area … it was an attack on my mother who was at three of my five Boston’s,” Huckle said. “It’s an attack on the all the people who make it possible for we, as runners, to do what we do.”

Huckle’s participation will pay homage to these people, the faces in the crowd that give athletes a reason to work hard and perform. Even more so, he hopes he will be a small part of a much greater American response, one that showcases our tendency to rally when an attacker threatens our way of life.

If there is a war on terror on America’s homeland, it doesn’t come in the form of explosions and gunfire. Self-preservation is the American battle; we give in to terrorist demands when we begin to see their actions affect our way of life. Huckle believes he will be just one of many fighting this battle come next year.

“I think it will be stronger, you’ve already seen a response similar to 9/11 where it kind of rallied our country, and rather than deterring us and causing fear it gives us strength … I think Boston will be bigger and better next year than it’s ever been before,” he said.

Huckle is no stranger to patriotism, which is evident by more than just the American flag that stretches behind his desk at the Koessler Athletic Center. His grandfather served in World War II and instilled a sense of national pride in him at a young age. His American pride could even be seen in his attentiveness to this year’s race, which came before the rest of the world turned on their television. Huckle spent the morning following the progress of Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher, who had the chance to be the first woman to win the race in a couple of years.

However, when Bill Lawson, a junior runner on his cross country team, arrived to the team’s practice later with news of the Boston bombings, Huckle’s attention turned to his three runners that he knew would be finishing around the time of the attack.

One of those runners was Taryn Hand, an athlete he had trained last fall who ran at SUNY Geneseo and now serves an assistant coach at Oregon State University. Hand finished the race with a time of 3:48, shortly before the explosion occurred. Her post-race experiences, however, conveyed the true horror for Huckle from afar.

“She was in the medical tent, she had a pretty rough race so she was receiving medical assistance at the end, and she was pretty out of it when they started bringing in the victims of the bombing,” the coach said. “She seemed pretty stressed out about it, almost out of touch with what was going on around her.”

It’s stories like those that likely serve as the basis for the only minor victory this act of terror has had over the Canisius coach–he is still questioning whether he wants his family supporting him at next year’s marathon. While he has no problem attending himself in honor of sport and city, the fear instilled by this year’s attack makes him unsure of whether or not he’d want to put his niece and nephew at risk.

Even so, Huckle recognizes that this is the very purpose that terrorism has always tried to carry out, and he isn’t ready to give in completely.

“I don’t want to deter [my family] from [the marathon] because I think at that point the terrorism starts to take away from what we do in this country, but if they do go out I might suggest that they aren’t in such a high profile area as the finish line,” he said.

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