Emergency room doctors putting their running shoes on to support the victims of the Boston Marathon...
One year after they worked their crowded emergency room at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, rushing to help the critically injured spectators and runners coming in from the Boston Marathon bombings, two ER doctors plan to honor those patients by crossing the finish line together in the first post-bombings marathon this April.
“There’s a bond,” said Dr. Eric Goralnick, an emergency physician. “For all of us within the Brigham community, the marathon really bonded us together.”
Goralnick and trauma surgeon Dr. Robert Riviello are running their first Boston Marathon to show their pride in Boston and solidarity with the bombing victims they worked on. The docs, both 40, have developed a friendship training together.
“We both have the shared experience of being first responders last year and running this year,” Riviello said.
In the hours after last year’s marathon bombings, Riviello treated patients and operated — removing nails, BBs and other shrapnel. He conducted more operations in the days and weeks that followed.
Goralnick, as director of emergency preparedness at Brigham and Women’s, kept order in the ER, making sure doctors and nurses were doing their jobs properly in the face of a terrible tragedy — the kind of event they train for but hope will never happen.
Goralnick said he felt particularly proud that day.
“I want to do the marathon because I’m proud of our community, I’m proud of our community’s resilience, I’m proud of our hospital,” he said. “This is my way of giving back to our community and our institution.”
Riviello said he’s inspired by the innocent victims of the bombing who have stayed positive despite their terrible injuries. The surgeon, who trains physicians in Rwanda, is also running in solidarity for the people in that country, for whom violence and insecurity is a daily reality.
Goralnick and Riviello have run marathons in the past, but never in Boston. They are running this year as part of Brigham’s marathon team and raising money for the hospital’s research and treatment efforts. Like them, thousands have decided to run the course for the first time this year, while others will return to the course after years away. The Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the event, expects 36,000 runners this year, up from 27,000 last year.
Preparation for a 26-mile race takes months of work, and Goralnick and Riviello admit they have trouble fitting practice runs into their busy schedules as doctors, husbands and fathers. The brutally cold weather this winter isn’t helping.
What does help is the coaching and support they get from the Brigham marathon team — more than 100 strong this year — and having someone to talk to during the long runs through the snow, ice and cold.
“Running 10, 12, 14 miles gives you a lot of time to talk,” Riviello said. “I know a whole lot more about his personal history, how he got into medicine, about his wife, about his kids. That’s been a whole lot of fun. You can hear someone’s life story easily for two hours and then the run is done.”
Goralnick also enjoys the long chats.
“It’s really nice to meet someone outside of the hospital,” he said. “I learned so much about him and things he’s done. Rob is a pretty amazing person. He’s a role model. He does amazing work mentoring other physicians. He’s done quite a bit of humanitarian work in Africa.”
The pair try to run together every Saturday morning.
“There’s a lot of teenage locker room talking smack,” Riviello joked.
They’ll have a long time to chat — and talk smack — March 29, when they’re scheduled for 20 miles, the longest practice run before they arrive at the starting line in Hopkinton on April 21.
Riviello said his young son, 4, knowing he is running and having heard what happened last year, has said to him, “Daddy, what about the bombs?”
“I have zero worries about the Boston Marathon this year. I actually feel very secure,” Riviello said.