MARYLAND

Bethesda man's record-setting run stopped by Boston bombings

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The terror attacks at the Boston Marathon may have brought an end to a world record set by a Bethesda man.

Ben Beach was running to cross the finish line for the 46th straight year, but he had to end his race early.

But he tells ABC7 that race may have been the luckiest of his life because if he had not been slowed by an injury at mile 10, his family might have been at the finish line when the bombs went off.

Beach ran his first Boston Marathon in 1968 and he found his passion.

“I wasn't good at football, basketball, but I thought, maybe this is my sport,” Beach says.

He's never missed a year since. Not even when he developed dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that severely affects his gait.

“I don't know how to quit,” he says.

Now 63 years old, Beach considers it luck he's managed to land in a class by himself, the only runner in history to finish Boston 45 years in a row - until this year.

Beach's wife Carol made t-shirts for family and friends to celebrate his record breaking streak at the finish line.

“We got these grandstand tickets,” Carol Beach says. “For the first time in 46 years.”

But at mile 10, Beach's leg seized up.

“It just went ‘zap,’ and I couldn't walk another step,” Beach says.

He was reduced to a walk. It would be hours more, so his family skipped the grandstand. Had Beach been on pace he still wouldn't have reached the finish line before the blasts, he says, but it could've put his family at the finish line when the bombs went off, waiting to watch his finish.

“I guess I'm feeling it's a stroke of luck,” Ben Beach says. “Another piece of luck. You never want to get injured, but you do want to get injured when you have terrorists bombing the finish line.”

Police stopped Beach at mile 22, just after Heartbreak Hill. But for the man who keeps his medals in an old pizza box, he's deeply aware of the heartbreak he was spared.

“So much sadness for people who got nailed by this thing and relieved that my family's not on that list of victims,” he says.

The streak is important, but in terms of what happened that day, it's way down in terms of importance.

Beach expects to hear soon from the Boston Athletic Association whether his streak remains intact or is broken. He does not believe his streak is broken, but the BAA will have the final word, he says. Either way, he plans to lace up for his 47th Boston Marathon next year.

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