Boston bombing victim "starts" and "ends" Baltimore Marathon. While the Baltimore Running Festival had no elite runners this year, it did have an elite starter. Erika Brannock, the Towson preschool teacher who lost a leg from injuries suffered in April's Boston bombing, sounded the bullhorn to begin the marathon. She also held the tape at the finish as the winner crossed over. "I was just sick to my stomach with nerves" prior the Baltimore event, said Brannock, 29, who'd not attended a race since the Boston marathon. Then, she'd stood near the finish line, waiting to cheer on her mother when two bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring 260. Yet there she stood on the morning of Oct. 12, the honorary starter for a big-city race, briefly addressing a throng of 27,000 runners before sending them on a 26.2-mile jaunt through city streets. (David Berdan, a 32-year-old science teacher and cross country coach at Garrison Forest, became the first local champion in the 13 years of the Running Festival.) When asked by race officials to participate, Brannock eagerly agreed, calling it "a huge honor" and saying she hoped to "give [runners] a little extra push that ... they can think 'Erika inspired me to keep on going.' " She had personal motives as well. "I guess it's kind of my statement that I'm not going to be afraid, and I'm going to be back and be a part of this as much as I can," she said. "I don't ever want to be scared to go back and be near the finish line."
Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun