Merrick marathoner turns tragedy into triumph

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Kara, who has a 3.8 grade point average at Tufts, is majoring in political science, and plans to attend law school. She started long-distance running while she was a student at Calhoun High School in Merrick, where she competed for the cross-country and track teams. She is one of four children. Her sister, Meryl, 23, is completing her master’s in social work at Syracuse University. Her twin brothers, Alex and Jason, are in 11th grade.

“Kara has always been my most adventurous child,” Sheri said. “She is an extremely amazing child.”

Kara maintains a tight marathon training schedule at school, running seven to 20 miles six days a week, and bicycling or swimming one day, while also doing an internship as a research assistant at Middlesex Superior Court and acting as a Tufts tour guide. “I’m the queen of time management,” she said with a laugh.

She said she doesn’t consider herself brave because she ran the New York City Marathon a half-year after the Boston bombing. Her mom, she said, is the brave one. “Her job is to sit and wait and make sure everything goes OK,” she said.

New York, she said, “was wonderful. It was nice to be home. It felt like running at home. It was unimaginable to think how many people were running at the same time.”

Jennifer Hahn, a Calhoun social studies teacher, coached Kara there. “She’s a really driven, mature person,” Hahn said. “There’s a streak of independence in her, of being a free thinker. On the track, she was really driven. She had a real love of the sport, of running outside, of the purity of the sport, which is why she has taken to running marathons.”

Kara said she sees running as a catharsis. “Running, for most marathon runners, is a therapy for something,” she said. “It helps people cope. Running, for me, is like my Zen moment. I get to clear my head, and I do feel closer to my father when I’m running.”

Next year she plans to run the Hong Kong Marathon while studying abroad, and in 2015, the Boston Marathon once again, when she is a Tufts senior.

Fear and loathing in Boston
On April 18, three days after the bombing, an atmosphere of fear and loathing enveloped Boston when the FBI revealed the identities of the two alleged bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, ages 26 and 19, brothers who were born in Kyrgyzstan, relocated to the Dagestan region of Russia at one point and lived for a decade in the United States. A citywide manhunt ensued, and in a feverish attempt to elude authorities, the Tsarnaevs allegedly killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, Sean Collier, around 11 p.m. that day, according to CNN’s timeline of events.

Tamerlan was killed in a subsequent car chase and shootout with police in the early hours of April 19. Dzhokhar reportedly ran over his brother with a car in the melee before escaping. He was apprehended late in the day on April 19, holed up in a backyard boat in Watertown, outside Boston, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to his face and extremities that he sustained during the shootout with police.

Dzhokhar, who is now 20, was charged with 30 federal counts, including detonating a weapon of mass destruction, according to The Guardian. He faces the death penalty or life in prison if convicted. His trial could begin in federal court next year. He is being held in the federal prison in Fort Devens, Mass.

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