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Cancer Hits Home For Westport Runner In Boston Marathon

Westport's Brett Katzner will run the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21 to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston.
Westport's Brett Katzner will run the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21 to raise funds for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. – This year’s Boston Marathon, just the third attempt at the 26.2-mile distance for Westport’s Brett Katzner, will be his most rewarding.

Katzner will run the race on Monday, April 21, to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Boston. He is running in memory of his sister, Tara, who died in 1986 at the age of 14 after a nine-year battle with leukemia.  He was just 15 at the time of his sister’s death. People can support Katzner through his online fundraising page.

“Dana-Farber was where my sister was treated, and I grew up in Amherst,’’ Katzner said. “The personal challenge to do this was significant. I wasn’t really running last summer when we conjured up this idea. I got the idea from a high school friend who lives in Boston and thought I’d like to try.”

Katzner’s last marathon was in New York in 2003. He also ran a marathon in San Francisco. When his friends asked him about running Boston, he was excited, especially since he could support Dana-Farber.

“At the time it wasn’t so much about me, but it was more about my parents,’’ he said. “The care and the understanding, and the way that they dealt with my family was fantastic. They were there every step of the way. They tried everything they could, from innovative medicines to traditional medicines. They worked hard to come up with any solution they could.”

This year’s Boston Marathon will be emotional for all runners. Last year, terrorists planted bombs near the finish line that killed three people on race day. Hundreds of others were injured.

“There’s no doubt that what happened last year takes it to another level, if that’s possible,’’ Katzner said. “It just adds to it all. I’m not very emotional, but thinking of my sister is the one area that I do get emotional about. It’s great to be part of the race and to show terrorists that they aren’t going to deter runners.”

Katzner’s primary goal is to finish, and perhaps challenge his previous personal best of 3 hours, 53 minutes. “I’m told that Boston is one of the tougher marathon courses,’’ he said. “Unfortunately no one told me that when I started training.”

His training gone well, and he figures he’ll make it across the finish line. “I’m looking forward to the experience,’’ he said. “The first 15 to 17 miles will be fun, then I figure it will be 3 really tough miles and 5 miles of survival. I’m a big Red Sox fan, so hopefully I’ll get close to the stadium and find a little inspiration for those last few miles.”

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