NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 10, 2014

Stopped by bombing, Port native returning to finish what she started

By Mac Cerullo
Sports Editor

---- — NEWBURYPORT – Every weekend, Cate Seely drives down to the Boston Marathon course to train, and while she often finds herself on Boylston Street near the finish line, she never crosses it.

“If you cross the Boston Marathon finish before actually finishing, it’s bad luck,” Seely said.

Seely, who is 28 years old and grew up in Newburyport, was five miles away from the finish line when the bombs went off during last year’s race. She was ultimately stopped at a medical tent in Newton and was among more than 5,000 runners granted a waiver to compete in this year’s race.

Now running the marathon for the third time, Seely is back to finish what she started.

“I still haven’t finished that race,” she said. “So I will finish it in about [42] days.”

Like many who grow up in the area, Seely has a deep connection with the marathon. When she was young, her family frequently went into Boston on Marathon Monday to cheer on the runners on near the finish line. She said that she loved the festivities, the fact that everyone got the day off from work or school, that the Red Sox would play in the morning and how the weather was usually beautiful.

As she got older, she began to interact with more people who actually ran the marathon, the first being her Spanish teacher at the Rupert A. Nock Middle School.

“Before then I didn’t know anybody who’d run it before, and I thought that was the craziest thing that she ran for fun,” Seely said.

Seely got into running herself about six years ago, initially as a way to slim down for a wedding and eventually to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Several members of Seely’s family have battled the two diseases, and in 2011 she decided to take the plunge and run the Boston Marathon in support of the charity.

“At first I was really nervous about having to raise all the money and nervous about what I was thinking making this leap from 5Ks to a marathon,” she said. “There were a lot of people who questioned whether I’d be able to do it, and finishing was the coolest feeling in the world, I just couldn’t believe that I did it.”

Seely joked that her claim to fame is that she was one of the last women recorded before organizers closed the course, so her time wasn’t anything to brag about, but she did raise $4,166 for the charity. After working as a volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in 2012, she laced up her shoes again last year and ran the race for the second time.

“Last year it was great training, another great team and great coaches, but we all know what happened,” she said. “It was confusing and hard to wrap my head around what was happening when the news was finally broken to me.”

Seely said that it was total confusion in the immediate aftermath of the attack, and that it took her three hours to figure out how she was going to get home. She said it helped a lot that she had some teammates and a coach with her when things turned ugly, and once she was finally reunited with her family she was relieved to find out that everyone was ok.

Going into next month’s race, Seely said she’s found peace in running and isn’t afraid of another attack. One thing that still haunts her, however, is the specter of cancer. Last year, Joan Rogers, her old neighbor on Buck Street, died of the disease 14 days before the marathon, and then this past September, Seely’s mother had a battle with breast cancer, which she survived.

This year, Seely is once again running in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and this time she is running in honor of Rogers, who she said was like a grandmother to her and her younger brother. So far she has raised $2,120, and her goal is to raise $2,750 by race day.

“One of the unfortunate things is that I keep finding new reasons to run,” Seely said. “The disease didn’t go away from my life so it wasn’t a one-time thing, so I had more motivation to do it.”

To support Seely’s efforts, visit her fundraising portal at http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston14/cseely