This guest post is from Verlaine Brunot, brother of Jonathan Brunot, a runner on the spectrum who has been an active runner with Team Up! With Autism Speaks! Verlaine recently shared a piece with us on Jonathan leading up to the Boston Marathon, which you can read here.
Monday April 21st, 2014 is a date I will never forget.
It is the date that my youngest brother Jonathan ran and FINISHED his 6th Boston Marathon (12th marathon overall). It was also our return as a family to the Boston area since last year's bombings that cut the race short.
On Saturday, April 19th, Jonathan, his two coaches and I went into downtown Boston to pick up Jonathan's official bib #24497. The Boston Marathon held a gigantic fitness expo in conjunction with the number pick up that attracted thousands of runners and non-runners. Jonathan LOVED walking around the expo, seeing all the different clothing and gadgets, and grabbing EVERY free sample available!
After taking care of all the official registration, we all walked to the Finish Line together. Coach Vincent, knowing Jonathan was a visual learner, wanted him to physically see and touch the Finish Line that he was unable to see at the end of last years race.
Jonathan, stimming with his hands vibrating in front of his face, offered this response when coach Vincent pointed down Boylston Street, "To run! All the way.... to the Finish Line!"
Once Jonathan was dropped off at the start of the Finish Line, he was in the hands of our gifted and selfless running guides. They had the difficult task of not only monitoring Jonathan's health and well being at all times, they were tasked with safely navigating Jonathan around the more than 36,000 runners sharing the road during the marathon!
Team Jonathan was part of the Men's Wave 3, corral 7 and he began running the Boston Marathon at 11 A.M!
Once Jonathan and his coaches were dropped off at 7 A.M, Team Jonathan's supporters (Jonathan's mother and two older brothers) headed off to downtown Boston in order to get to the Finish Line early and carve out a spot to spectate!
Team Jonathan arrived at our pre-determined spot on the course, in front of the Lord & Taylor's on runner's right, 150 yards before the Finish Line. This year, the change in atmosphere and security were palpable. There were new security checkpoints, as well as a clear bag policy and it was clear that the Boston PD were out in full force. The crowds were amazing and very loud and positive.
We waited nearly 6 hours from when we first arrived, and at 3:50 P.M, 4 and 1/2 hours after they began running, we saw coaches Vincent and Kevin 200 yards before the Finish Line!
In our excitement, we began chanting, "Jon-A-than, Jon-A-than, Jon-A-than!!" Jonathan and his coaches heard us (and the wonderful people around us) and stopped to see us right before they officially crossed the Finish Line!!
Jonathan finished with an official time of 4 hours 46 minutes 33 seconds. This was an average (net) a pace of about 10:36 per mile. Coach Vincent told us after the race that Jonathan was as relaxed as ever and truly enjoyed the sights and the sounds throughout all 26.2 miles. He emerged from the race uninjured, clutching his medal and spent the car ride back to NY watching Mary Poppins and the Little Mermaid!
In our eyes, watching Jonathan cross the Finish Line after seeing thousands of "neuro-typical" runners push themselves past exhaustion was nothing short of a miracle. It is my privilege to share my brother's story, and I will never stop being inspired by his strength and mental fortitude.