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Barrington High School graduate, District 220 elementary art teacher and BHS Cross Country Coach, Tom Root, always dreamed of running the Boston Marathon. This Monday, the 26-year-old lifelong runner from Barrington Hills reached that goal, finishing his seventh marathon, his first outside the state of Illinois.
Tom crossed the finish line, just 40 minutes before two shrapnel-filled bombs exploded there, killing three people and injuring more than 180 others. He had rested nearby, gathered his things and just headed back to a friend’s place when the bombs went off.
Just a few miles from the finish line, Tom’s cell phone started to light up with messages from concerned friends and family back home.
“I started getting texts asking, ‘Are you OK?’. I think the first one was actually from Ty Gorman, the head cross country coach at Barrington High School, and I figured he had just been tracking my times. I explained that I was fine and then he told me there were explosions at the finish line. Being so close to it and having just been at the exact spot where the bombs went off, knowing you needed to sit tight because they didn’t know if something else was going to happen, was just a strange, scary feeling.”
Back at home Tom’s dad, Jim, an artist who also owns a marketing company in Barrington, had been tracking Tom’s progress online throughout the race.
“Not long after I found out Tom had finished, we started getting calls and texts asking if he was OK. I called Tom and, at first, the call didn’t go through.”
They finally connected and Jim learned that Tom was safe.
“You’re glad, but then you’re also sad for the people who were there. It was a surreal day, a little like September 11th for me. It was a gorgeous day, everybody was happy, and, all of a sudden, this horrific thing happens.”
Jim says it was good to give Tom a hug in person when he picked him up from the airport this week. Tom was wearing his brand new Boston Marathon jacket when he stepped off the plane, just in time to make a cross country meet at Barrington High School.
As investigators uncover new evidence in their search for those responsible for this week’s bombing, Tom says learning more about the victims and their families is heartbreaking……